Institute Report March 2014 - page 14

Page 14, MARCH 2014
VMI Institute Report
Greece Trip Full of Surprises for Brass Quintet
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Members of the VMI band’s brass
quintet recently escaped midwinter’s
drear with a trip to the sun-drenched
land of Greece.
Making the trip Jan. 4-11 were cadets
Jack Dixon ’14, trumpet; Tiffany Haines
’15, French horn; Jonathan Hampton
’13, tuba; GrahamMartin ’16, trombone;
and Jake Tyler ’16, trumpet. They were
accompanied by Col. John Brodie,
director.
Brodie’s original plan had called for
the quintet to travel to Morocco, but
Haines, who’d always wanted to go to
Greece, waged a fierce lobbying effort
to reroute the group.
“I went into [Brodie’s] office and badgered him about Greece, and
everybody else begged him to take us to Greece,” recalled Haines,
laughing at the memory.
The group’s adventure began shortly after New Year’s, when they
gathered at the Northern Virginia home of Christopher Guin ’05 to
rehearse and prepare. They then flew from Dulles International Airport
to Istanbul, Turkey, and from Istanbul to Athens, Greece.
In Greece, the travelers were surprised immediately by both what they
saw – and what they didn’t see.
Martin, for one, was amazed to travel from the melting pot of America
to a land with little ethnic diversity. “There’s no diversity at all,” he noted.
“Everyone looks about the same, at least to us.”
Haines, meanwhile, was expecting a kind of trouble she thankfully
didn’t encounter.
“Before I went there, a lot of people were telling me, ‘Be careful.
There’s a lot of anti-American sentiment there,’” Haines recalled.
“But when I got there, I felt really, really safe,” she continued. “There
was a police officer on every street corner. That’s what surprised me –
how safe it felt.”
Tyler had heard that the Greek economy is completely destroyed, and
that no one has any money. Once in the country, he said, that wasn’t
immediately obvious.
“In Athens, you could see that maybe
every fourth business had an empty lot
there,” he said.
More surprises awaited the group
when they traveled to the Hellenic Army
Academy in the town of Vari, about an
hour south of Athens. Right away, the
cadets found that the academy and VMI,
while superficially similar, were worlds
apart in their orientation.
“The academy is very different from
VMI,” said Martin. “Theirs is extremely
into physical training and military tactics.”
He and Tyler both noted that the academy
puts much less emphasis on academics
than does VMI – and at the academy, cadets don’t even earn a degree at
the end. Rather, they commission in the Greek Army, with a minimum
commitment of 10 years.
While at the academy, the cadets gave a concert for the cadets
there, playing a varied repertoire of selections ranging from Mozart’s
“Hallelujah Chorus” to the theme from
Titanic
.
They also gave a concert at the home of Col. David Chapman, U.S.
Army attaché to Greece, and had a chance to mingle with attaches from
Europe and North Africa at a cocktail party hosted by Chapman.
“We got to meet military attaches from all over, like Egypt, Germany,
and Russia,” Haines recalled. Martin, who is fluent in Spanish, said he
especially enjoyed talking with the Spanish attaché.
All of the cadets agreed that the experience, which included trips to the
usual tourist sites such as the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the Temple of
Poseidon, plus the island of Hydra, carless and accessible only by water
taxi, was a more than memorable conclusion to the Christmas furlough.
Many are already hoping, and not so secretly, that Brodie will take
the quintet on another overseas trip before they graduate. Haines, for
one, is ready for another round of not-so-subtle lobbying.
“We’re trying to get him to go to Italy,” she said.
See a video of the brass quintet: vmi.edu/quintet.
Tiffany Haines ’15 performs with the brass quintet in
Greece.
– Photo courtesy of Col. John Brodie.
Herbarium Accessible Once More
Continued from page 9
specimens from around [Rockbridge County] of things that may not be
here anymore. This is historical documentation of what was here and
where it was here.”
With the herbarium now in a more accessible location, the biology
department is trying to make all of its collections equally accessible.
When the Maury-Brooke renovation gave the department a chance to
re-evaluate its space needs, what emerged from the drawing board
included a room large enough for the herbarium, plus several cabinets
holding mammalian skins and skeletons.
“We had this idea, ‘Let’s get everything into one room,’ said Alerding
of the decision to combine the collections.
The dual-purpose room, which is spacious enough for several large
tables with chairs around them, is designed not only to house the
collections, but also to allow cadets to perform dissections.
“The goal is to someday maintain specimens of every species of
mammal, reptile, amphibian, and bird in Virginia,” said Maj. Paul
Moosman ’98, assistant professor of biology. All specimens are collected
under special permits issued by state or federal agencies to biology faculty
members; most are salvaged animals such as road kills or window strikes.
“All of this is to support our organismal courses like mammalogy,
herpetology, and ornithology, … but if we do a good job with the
collection it could eventually serve as a resource to the scientific
community, like the herbarium.”
As for the herbarium, Alerding and Rowe are excited at the prospect
of making VMI’s collection available to the world.
“I’m certain that this collection will become known nationally,” said
Alerding. “Researchers will find plants that they didn’t know existed,
and they’ll want to come and do research here.”
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