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Orbital Harmony keeps military tradition alive

Orbital Harmony members perform “God Bless America” at the Sky Sox game in Colorado Springs, Colorado, July 4, 2017. The group competed to sing at the game and earned second place out of about 100 contestants. (Courtesy photo)

Orbital Harmony members perform “God Bless America” at the Sky Sox game in Colorado Springs, Colorado, July 4, 2017. The group competed to sing at the game and earned second place out of about 100 contestants. (Courtesy photo)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Music is thickly intertwined with the military experience, dating back centuries to when Julius Caesar marched into battle accompanied by a military band to conquer Gaul. 

Schriever’s choral a cappella group, Orbital Harmony, continues to carry on this musical tradition by performing at various events on and off base.

Ret. Maj. Allen Vickrey, warfighter requirements and advocacy chief and manager for Orbital Harmony, has been an active member since 2001 after seeing a request in the base bulletin for auditions. He took over as manager in 2013.

His role in the group stems from managing to singing multiple parts like bass, tenor and alto.

However, Vickrey explained how although he is technically manager of the group, everyone helps out in whatever way they can.

“We have small enough numbers to where everyone has to do a duty of some kind, whether it’s singing two parts or helping manage,” he said.

The group tries to maintain 12 members at all times so no events get turned away due to a lack of numbers, according to Vickrey.

“We are a loose group of volunteers,” added Vickrey. “We try and make accommodations for people’s schedules. We have a rotation of folks.”

Vickrey has been advertising for the group in the base bulletin for a while because it has been a challenge to get a consistent amount of people to stay in the group.

“We are a transient based population,” he said. “Sometimes it’s tough to get the right amount of talent.”

Although it can be difficult to find members, Vickrey loves being a part of the choir and performing in front of a crowd.

“You get goosebumps on your goosebumps,” Vickrey said. “It’s that intrinsic reward.”

Capt. Kara Jarvis, 50th Network Operations Group, commander’s action group chief and Orbital Harmony alto, joined in 2015 and has participated in more than 40 events with the group.

According to Jarvis, the group is organizationally diverse, containing members from the 50th Operations Group, the 310th Space Wing, military spouses and members of the Colorado Springs community. They will accept auditions from just about anyone.

The group performs at events such as promotion ceremonies, memorial services, sporting events and more.

Orbital Harmony has been successful in regard to talent. They competed to perform at the Sky Sox game on July 4, and received second place out of about 100 contestants.

“We try not to limit ourselves to just military things,” Jarvis said. “It presents a good image for the 50th Space Wing out into the community.”

Jarvis said the best part about being a member of the choir is the resiliency.

“For me personally, why I joined the group in the first place, it’s a resiliency thing. Singing and performing is my way to decompress from the stress of my job,” Jarvis said. “It’s nice to step out for an hour and just relax a little bit, sing a song and then go back to work.”

Senior Master Sgt. Jason Gravitt, 8th Space Warfare Squadron, det. 1 superintendent and Orbital Harmony tenor, joined in 2015 after seeing the base bulletin asking for members, and since then has appreciated the comradery the group offers.

“Growing up, I was in the choir at school, and I enjoyed being in the group and having all the voices singing together and having the harmonies,” he said.  

To find out more about Orbital Harmony, contact Allen Vickrey at 721-9280 or visit the Orbital Harmony Facebook page.