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West Point Brass
Listen to the West Point Brass  ¦  Individual Member Biographies

The West Point Brass (formerly the Storm King Brass) is comprised of musicians in the West Point Band. Founded in 2003, the ensemble presents a diverse repertoire, from Renaissance to modern works, to its audiences. In support of military functions, the quintet has entertained the United States Corps of Cadets and performed for many visiting dignitaries and heads of state at West Point. Additionally, the ensemble actively performs throughout the New York metropolitan area. The ensemble has also been featured throughout the country, including performances in Florida, Oregon, Connecticut, South Dakota, Utah, and Iowa.

Listen to the West Point Brass

Individual Member Biographies

SSG Alaina Alster
Staff  Sergeant Alaina Alster recently joined the West Point Band in October of 2013.  Originally from Long Island, NY, she earned her Bachelor of Music in both trombone and euphonium performance from the University of Michigan and her Master of Music in trombone performance from the Manhattan School of Music. Prior to joining the West Point Band, Staff Sergeant Alster was an active freelance musician in New York City where she enjoyed a career performing a wide range of musical genres. She continues to perform with ensembles outside of West Point, specifically as a member of PitchBlak Brass Band, a ten piece hip-hop brass band based out of Brooklyn, NY. Staff Sergeant Alster is also a music educator and has worked as a teaching artist for the Phil Ramone Orchestra for Children, as well as a private music instructor. 
SSG Rachel Hertzberg
Staff Sergeant Rachel Hertzberg, originally from Montvale, New Jersey, joined the West Point Band in January of 2010. She earned her Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University, where she studied with Rex Martin. She subsequently attended Arizona State University, where she studied with Sam Pilafian, earning her Master of Music in tuba performance. Staff Sgt. Hertzberg has attended various summer music festivals, including the Aspen Summer Music Festival & Institute, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

SSG Bill Owens
Staff Sergeant Bill Owens, from White Plains, New York, joined the West Point Band in the fall of 2011. After earning his Bachelor of Music from the Juilliard School in 2005, Bill moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a free-lance chamber and orchestral musician. He has quickly established himself in southern California by performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Diego Symphony and Opera Orchestra, the Riverside Philharmonic, and the Ojai Festival Orchestra. Staff Sgt. Owens was a member of the national touring ensemble Presidio Brass, a chamber ensemble dedicated to furthering the art of the brass quintet as well as enriching the lives of students and children through educational workshops and classes. With his Presidio Brass colleagues, Bill also played in southern California’s only brass, organ, and percussion ensemble, Millennia Consort.
SSG Mikki Skinner

Staff Sergeant Mikki Skinner joined The West Point Band in November of 2008. Prior to joining, she earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of Oklahoma with Dr. Karl Sievers and was a master's degree candidate at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she studied with Michael Sachs of the Cleveland Orchestra. While pursuing her studies, Staff Sgt. Skinner won second place at the National Trumpet Competition in Washington, DC and performed with various orchestras throughout the United States and Europe including the 2006 Young Euro Classic Festival (Berlin), Aldeburgh Festival at Snape Maltings (England), Festival de Musique de Menton (France), Musica Riva Festival (Italy) and at the Gastieg (Munich).
SSG Matthew B. Smith
Staff Sergeant Matthew B. Smith, originally from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, joined the West Point Band in September of 2010.  Staff Sgt. Smith received his Bachelor of Music in horn performance from Arizona State University (2001), and then pursued graduate studies at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the University of Louisville.  Staff Sgt. Smith’s principal teachers include Thomas Bacon, William Lane, Randy Gardner, Duane Dugger and Bruce Heim.  Prior to joining the West Point Band, Staff Sgt. Smith spent three years with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Band at Fort Monroe, VA.  While with the TRADOC Band, he performed in brass quintet and concert band, and served as Chief Audio Engineer.  Staff Sgt. Smith has also performed with the Phoenix Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony and Pops, Richmond (VA) Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Evansville Philharmonic and Louisville Orchestra.
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