ALAMEDA -- Members of the San Jose Wind Symphony, under the direction of Dr. Edward Harris, have been invited to perform as part of the D-Day 70th Memorial Wind Band at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France this week to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces landed on the shores of Normandy during World War II to liberate France.
Tyra Ingram Cable, the music director at Lincoln Middle School in Alameda, who has played alto clarinet and clarinet with the San Jose Wind Symphony since 1998, is part of the wind band that will honor the fallen soldiers at the 70th D-Day performance. Global dignitaries expected to attend include President Obama, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince William and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"The sound of the band is totally awesome," Cable said Tuesday in an email from Paris. "The sound of the band is so magnificent. We will move the French people with our music. It is truly a grand experience to be playing with all these American musicians in Paris.
"I am ... so honored to be able to play at this special and humbling historic ceremony that will salute, revere and honor the sacrifices of all the men and women that gave their lives in the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944," Cable continued.
Twenty members of San Jose Wind Symphony will join other musicians from bands across the United States to form the D-Day 70th Memorial Wind Band, which will be conducted by D-Day veteran and esteemed conductor Col. Arnald D. Gabriel.
"I am the only alto clarinet in this large D-Day band," Cable said. "Among the pieces we will be playing are Carmen Dragon's 'America the Beautiful,' John Philip Sousa's 'Stars and Stripes Forever' and 'Chimes of Liberty' by Edwin Franko Goldman."
Cable, who grew up in the small town of Sylacauga, Alabama, was introduced to the clarinet when she was in fifth grade by the local high school band director -- "truly an icon in this small town" -- and never looked back.
"My mom and dad did not have a background in music," Cable said. "My first exposure to music was when the band director brought instruments to my fifth-grade class and let us try them. As a result of this early start in music, I was 'hooked' on music for life. If there was a parade going by, I was that kid on the curb who was totally enthralled by the marching band."
Cable, who has directed middle school bands for 38 years, said the teacher in her was evident from an early age. When her parents, who didn't have much money, found her a piano teacher for a dollar a week, the 12-year-old would rush home from her lesson and teach her younger brother and sister everything she'd learned.
Cable went on to become what she calls "a total band geek," playing in concert and marching bands at middle and high school in Alabama and, later, when the family moved to Jacksonville, Florida.
"I lived and breathed music," Cable said. "For me, a career path was strongly forged to pursue instrumental music education in college."
She earned her bachelor's, master's and doctorate in music studies and taught band for 20 years in middle schools in Iowa before moving to San Jose with her husband in 1998. They eventually relocated to the East Bay, where Cable taught in Castro Valley before landing a job teaching band and strings at Chipman Middle School in Alameda, where she taught for seven years. When that school closed, Cable moved to Lincoln Middle School, where she has been music director for four years.
Students who join the band at Lincoln have the opportunity to play in a wind ensemble, symphonic band, marching band and jazz band. Next year, Cable will offer a beginning strings band as well. During her tenure as music director, Lincoln Middle School bands have garnered an unprecedented number of awards, including first place out of 126 entries in this year's San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade in the Middle/High School Marching Bands Division. The advanced band was also selected to lead the Disneyland Main Street Parade in April.
"They marched tall, they marched proud and they marched in step," Cable said. "They played magnificently."
Cable said she chose to teach middle school throughout her career because students at that age are so eager and open to learning.
"Students in middle school have an amazing ability to stretch and reach to accomplish anything you offer them," Cable said. "I find that if I love a piece of music and have a passion for it, then my student will also love it and have passion for it too."