At the heart of every march or parade is the pattering of a snare drum or the call of a bugle. The Naval Academy Band has been playing at athletic events, funerals, commissionings, parades and other traditional military ceremonies for nearly 170 years. While music has always been important at the USNA, it evolved to what it is today with the help of one man, Charles A. Zimmerman. Zimmerman is known as the composer of the USNA fight song, “Anchors Aweigh,” but his musical history expands far beyond this song.
The Anchors Aweigh Music Tour sheds light on the history of “Anchors Aweigh” and explores the fascinating history of Zimmerman and the Naval Academy Band. You’ll then have the opportunity to take in the beautiful Beaux-Arts architecture across the Yard while learning interesting (and never-before heard) musical facts. The Anchors Aweigh Tour is a limited time U.S. Naval Academy Tour in July and August, so reserve your spots now!
Who Gives the Anchors Aweigh Tour?
The Anchors Aweigh Tour starts with a quick, but in-depth presentation at the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center Theater from professional musician and musicologist, retired Master Chief Musician David Hanner.
David Hanner grew up in a musical home where musical performances were abundant and celebrated. His mother was a professional singer and choir director. In the 4th grade he began instruction on the bassoon and joined the school band. His uncles served in the US Navy during the wars. Two influential music teachers had served in the US Navy as musicians. Hanner earned a Bachelor of Music in Education at Baldwin-Wallace College and later a Master of Arts in Musicology from The Catholic University of America. He was an instrumental music teacher in Ohio before auditioning for a position in the Navy Music Program.
Once in the Navy, he served in the Pacific Fleet Band in Hawaii and the Atlantic Fleet Band in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1989 he won an audition for the Naval Academy Band. He served as the Principal Bassoon, Enlisted Conductor of Ceremonial and Concert Bands, Chamber Winds Ensemble Leader, and the band’s historian. He spent an exhaustive amount of time researching the history of the USNA Band. Hanner became well-known for his knowledge on the band history and was listed as a Naval Academy Guest Speaker during the Anchors’ Aweigh Centennial in 2006-2007. He gave lectures throughout the local Annapolis Area and his interview in the Naval Academy Chapel by the Navy News Network was broadcast worldwide. His research is featured on the Naval Academy Website.
Before retiring in 2012, he was asked by the Administration to give tours to military guests. The Visitors Center asked him to join their tour guide service after witnessing one of these tours. Throughout his 30-year navy career, he has shared the stage with Lee Greenwood, Leonard Slatkin, Gunther Schuller, Frederick Fennell, Mark Scatterday, Adrian Gnam, Dwight Oltman, Wolfgang Vacano, Robert Merrill, Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Tony Bennett, Bob and Dolores Hope and others. Notable performances include the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Honolulu Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet, Peoples Republic of China Tour, Good Morning America (ABC), Today Show (NBC), US Navy Band 2010 National Tour, Carnegie Hall, Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, The Kennedy Center, and The White House. After Hanner retired from the Navy in 2012, he received K-12 Maryland Teacher Certification and worked in the local public schools in various substitute teacher and school assistant positions. He continued giving tours when available and after his second retirement he joined the Naval Academy Business Services Division as an Information Specialist/Tour Guide in the Visitors Center. Mr. Hanner holds membership in the American Musicological Society, Capital Chapter.
Throughout his time in Annapolis, Hanner researched Charles A. Zimmerman and through the USNA Archives/Special Collections, National Archives and Research Administration, Library of Congress, The Maryland State Archives, and the Shubert Archive to learn about Zimmerman’s works and life. Hanner focused on how Zimmerman contributed to music at the USNA and the Naval Academy Band.
When asked why he opted to give presentations and tours on Zimmerman, Hanner said “People don’t know why there is a bandstand named for Zimmerman. Many people call it a gazebo and know it as a place to take wedding pictures or have a snack after church. Zimmerman’s story needs to be told.” As you will learn in the presentation, Zimmerman was beloved by the midshipmen and made a difference in their lives. He deserves to be recognized with the other heroes for which USNA buildings are named.
Sights to See on the Tour
As mentioned before, the tour starts with a presentation. This presentation explores the career and accomplishments of Charles A. Zimmerman, as well as the creation and popularity of the famous “Anchors Aweigh” song.
After the presentation and the Call to Serve concludes, the tour will take you to Dahlgren Hall, Memorial Hall, the Chapel, down to the Crypt of John Paul Jones, and out to the Zimmerman Bandstand. Every stop on the tour will include historical anecdotes about the Naval Academy Band or how music had an impact on the location.
From start to finish, the Anchors Aweigh Tour is 90 minutes and is sure to educate and entertain! You’ll then have the option to attend a free 30-minute performance from the Naval Academy Band.
Anchors Aweigh Tour Schedule
Tours were offered this summer in July and August and featured the Naval Academy Band in their free Summer Concert Series.
- Thursday, July 14 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center Theater. Concludes at 12:30 for a free concert in the Zimmermann Bandstand by USNA Band’s Clarinet Quartet.
- Thursday, July 28 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center Theater. Concludes at 12:30 for a free concert in the Zimmermann Bandstand by USNA Band’s Superintendent’s Combo.
- Thursday, August 4 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center Theater. Concludes at 12:30 for a free concert in the Zimmermann Bandstand by USNA Band Brass Quintet.
- Thursday, August 11 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center Theater. Concludes at 12:30 for a free concert in the Zimmermann Bandstand by USNA Band’s Wind Trio.
Back By Popular Demand
People near and far just couldn't get enough of this amazing tour, so back by popular demand is one more tour and performance! This time, featuring Main Chapel Organist, Monte Maxwell.
- Tuesday, September 20 from 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. in the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center Theater. Concludes at 11:30 a.m. for a free concert at the Main Chapel with Main Chapel Organist, Monte Maxwell.
Remember that when you book a tour at the USNA, you’re supporting the Brigade of Midshipmen, as all proceeds from tours go directly back to them. Book your Anchors Aweigh tour and join us on the Yard!