Marching orders

BGSU alumni Chuck Bindis, Amy Horn on solid footing in military bands

By Bob Cunningham

When it comes to U.S. military bands, Bowling Green State University alumni are top brass.

BGSU has been well represented for the past 29 years, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Chuck Bindis ’10 is getting ready for basic training in the U.S. Navy while Amy Horn ’89 is preparing for her swan song in "The President's Own" Marine Band. Both play brass instruments: Bindis the trumpet and Horn the French horn.

Bindis majored in trumpet performance at BGSU. He recently was announced as the winner of a trumpet position with the U.S. Navy Band in Washington, D.C. 

After a committee reviewed his resume and playing experience, Bindis was invited to Washington for a live audition. More than 60 people were given a live audition, and after three rounds of performing and interviews he was the last man standing. 

“I was sort of in shock,” said Bindis, who grew up in Garfield Heights, Ohio, near Cleveland. “I felt I played really well that day and things went how I planned. But there are parts of the audition that you can’t plan for and they look to see how well you respond on the fly.” 

Bindis credited BGSU College of Musical Arts for helping him become the trumpeter he is today.   

“First of all, studying with Charles Saenz, he’s just a terrific trumpet teacher,” Bindis said. “He’s a very versatile trumpeter and he’s very comfortable playing classical music, jazz music, whatever it is. Studying with someone who is so well rounded was very helpful and because he was so well rounded that was something I tried to do myself and while at Bowling Green.”

Bindis said he took every opportunity to play at BGSU, performing with the orchestra, wind symphony, jazz band, jazz combos, brass quintets, trumpet ensemble, marching band and athletic band.

“All those experiences and being exposed to different genres of music just really helped mold me into a more well rounded, well versed player,” he said. 

The Navy Band has several duties, including arrival ceremonies at the White House and Pentagon, changes of command, military retirement ceremonies and funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Next, Bindis will join the Navy and head off to basic training for eight weeks — something he’s looking forward to — before he can report to the band in D.C. 

Bindis’ wife, Cassy ’10, also graduated from BGSU, majoring in graphic design and minoring in marketing. Bindis also has a Master of Music in trumpet performance from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), and is working to complete his Doctor of Musical Arts in trumpet performance from CCM. The couple is expecting their second child in September.

One of Bindis’ first assignments will be the presidential inauguration in January.

“It’s going to be pretty amazing,” Bindis said. “My wife and I are really looking forward to it.”

Horn is retiring from the Marine Band after 29 years of service. 

She started taking music lessons at BGSU when she was a junior at St. Joseph Central Catholic High School in Fremont, Ohio. Horn said it was a “perfect fit” to go to BGSU, where she earned a bachelor's degree in music education and French horn performance. She has been a steady supporter of the College of Musical Arts Pro Musica and the Herbert A. Spencer Horn Students Fund.

Horn joined the Marine Band in November of 1987, even though she hadn’t taken enough credits to graduate from BGSU. 

“When I left Bowling Green, I hadn’t finished my undergraduate degree,” she said. “I did all my music classes at BGSU and the only thing I didn’t have were my English, math and history classes. So, I did all that at the community colleges in the D.C. area. So, technically, I am an ’89 grad from Bowling Green.

“BGSU and Herb Spencer were instrumental in my career. He set the spark in me and was a great mentor.” 

Horn said she’s made a lot of memories in 29 years. Some of her favorites include playing for President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 and being directed by John Williams on a couple of special occasions.

She also sang and played guitar in the Marine Band’s ensemble country group, Free Country, which she helped found in 1992. 

“It was fun to be singing in front of a band,” Horn said. “As a horn player, I’m used to sitting in the back of the band, but being out front like a pop star singing with a microphone, it was great to be able to do that.”

She will be one of four soloists for the Marine Band on this fall's annual tour, but after 29 years, she said, “It’s time to go. It’s a physical job — it’s good for young people.” 

Horn has a Master of Arts degree in horn performance from The Catholic University of America Doctorate of Musical Arts in horn performance from the University of Maryland. She is an adjunct horn instructor at George Mason University and teaches students privately. 

Horn lives in Burtonsville, Md., with her husband, Edward J. Kelly, a sound recording engineer. She hopes to stay active in retirement by hitting many of the bike trails in the D.C. area. She also plans to continue teaching at George Mason and playing music on a freelance basis. 

Does Horn have any advice for Bindis?

“He’ll enjoy every moment of it because it’s neat to be right here in D.C. and having a front-row view of all the historical stuff," she said. "He’ll have the inauguration to do come January, so I hope he enjoys all that. It’s pretty special to work at a place like this with an important mission with people who are wonderful musicians to boot.”