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U.S. Air Force Band Ceremonial Brass Airman returns to Disney roots
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Willie Clark Jr., a tubist with the U.S. Air Force Band Ceremonial Brass, plays "Stars and Stripes Forever" during a concert at Downtown Disney in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 15, 2012. Clark, a founding member of the Walt Disney World tuba quartet "The Tubafours" from 1990-2000, is on tour with the U.S. Air Force Band Ceremonial Brass during a winter tour of Florida. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Adam M. Stump/RELEASED.
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Ceremonial Brass tubist returns to Disney roots

Posted 1/18/2012   Updated 1/19/2012 Email story   Print story


by Master Sgt. Adam Stump Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

1/18/2012 - Orlando, Fla. -- A tubist with The U.S. Air Force Band's Ceremonial Brass returned to his Disney roots when the group performed at Downtown Disney Jan. 15 here.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Willie E. Clark Jr., was a founding member of the Walt Disney World tuba quartet "The Tubafours" from 1990-2000.

Sergeant Clark joined the full-time tuba euphonium quartet after beating out approximately 30 other people for the job. A junior in college at the University of Illinois at the time, the Harvey, Ill., native moved to Orlando to play at MGM Studios, which is now called Disney's Hollywood Studios.

The quartet was an "atmosphere group" that walked throughout the park, playing in different spots. He said the group would often go to a long queue line for a ride and perform for 20 minutes.

"We were some of the most photographed tuba players ever," Sergeant Clark said, noting that guests would frequently take pictures of the group.

One of his favorite memories was performing during Disney's Very Merry Christmas Parade. During one spot, TV star Regis Philbin was outfitted with a tuba while "White Christmas" was playing on the television, making it appear like Philbin was performing. The camera slowly panned to Clark, who was actually belting out the performance, providing the audience with a laugh as Philbin acted surprised.

The tubist left Disney in 2000 and was playing at the Army Tuba Conference in Fort Myer, Va., when he first thought of playing in a military band. Much like his Disney audition, he had to beat out 30 other musicians in two rounds of playing to land a job with The U.S. Air Force Band.

Returning to Disney was a moving experience for the eight-year Air Force veteran.

"It is beautiful," Sergeant Clark said. "I love the job I have now. This was a great job as well. To see these two different worlds come together is gratifying."

Sergeant Clark said he also had the opportunity to play a concert in Orlando Jan. 14 in front of the Disney employee who first hired him, which brought together his two jobs.

Sergeant Clark and other members of the band are currently on a winter tour of Florida, with the theme of "American Song and Cinema." The Ceremonial Brass is typically seen throughout the National Capital Region performing at more than 1,100 ceremonies each year, including large ensembles and buglers to perform in most outdoor ceremonial venues and the Ceremonial Brass Quintet for smaller indoor settings.

2/23/2012 2:41:38 PM ET
Great article Willie. I'm mighty proud of everything you've accomplished in your life It must be very cool to be back in Orlando and Disney. Does it seem like a different place already or has it stayed pretty much the same I know that the last time I was in Orlando it had grown so much since my days in the Florida Symphony Orchestra that about the only thing I recognized was the fountain in the lake...
Fritz Kaenzig, university of michigan
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