Birch Creek Bids Well Wishes to Trumpeter Called to Serve

by Carla Byrnes, secretary, Birch Creek Board of Trustees

At age 11, Ally Hany was handed her ticket to the Air Force. Music ran through her veins as the granddaughter and niece to trombone players, and the daughter of a saxophonist. It was no surprise when she chose to pursue an instrument in her school band. Although torn between what to play, the decision was made when her grandfather gifted her a trumpet he bought for $40 at a garage sale. That $40 purchase led Ally from her home in St. Louis to annual summer employment in Door County; undergrad at University of North Texas, and a master’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music. This month, she will marry her fellow trumpet-playing fiancé in Door County, and head to boot camp before taking the stage as a member of the Air Force Jazz Band in San Francisco.

“It is an incredible way to serve my country while doing what I love to do,” Hany said.

Birch Creek first became part of Ally’s life upon entering high school and hearing about it through older classmates.

“Birch Creek is different than most band camps where you rehearse for a week and then perform in one concert at the end of camp. Here, students perform for an audience almost immediately in different size ensembles, small group and big band. You are always playing,” she said. “It is an amazing experience for anyone interested in music.”

Through Birch Creek and various other camps, Hany honed her skills and applied to North Texas University (NTU) for her undergraduate degree.

Ally Hany performing at Birch Creek 2017 Jazz I Session. Submitted.

“Initially I was placed in one of the lower bands,” she said, but she soon advanced to lead trumpet in the top big band at NTU – touring and recording with the One O’Clock Lab Band, one of the most prestigious college big bands in the country. After graduating, she headed to the East Coast pursuing her master’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM). There were 10 trumpet players at MSM, compared to the hundred at NTU and “we challenged each other to be the best we could be.”

While in New York, Hany produced her first CD of original compositions, Journeys Ahead, won second place in the National Trumpet Competition, and played a variety of gigs around the city, her favorite being Dizzy’s Club in Lincoln Center.

Birch Creek was an important part of Hany’s life throughout her college years too, and every summer she traveled to Door County to work as a teaching assistant for the Jazz I session.

Hany said of the beauty, talent, and joy found in Egg Harbor, “We live here in lovely Door County for two weeks and don’t have to think of anything except music – we just practice, compose, and learn.” Hany has spent the last six summers doing exactly that, with an added twist two years ago.

In the summer of 2015, Hany’s boyfriend and fellow NTU trumpet player, Donny Albrecht travelled to Birch Creek to attend a concert. Little did Hany know, she was about to be proposed to onstage in front of a live audience. In preparation for the proposal, Albrecht requested permission from bandleader Jeff Campbell, and his only response was, “Will she say yes?” The rest is history.

Fast-forward to May of 2017, and Hany was getting ready for graduate once again, this time with her master’s. She was faced with another decision – where to go next? Offers were coming in from New York, her fiancé was working on his doctorate at the University of Illinois and her options were endless. That’s when Ally’s grandfather, a trombonist in the army band during the Korean War, indirectly influenced her decision. Ally auditioned for the Travis Air Force Band in Northern California, which is the largest of the six. She was selected as one of only seven trumpets in the band, and will be part of the brass quintet, soloing in the big band as well as playing “Taps” when requested. Travis has a large musical outreach program, which Hany learned was important to her through her time at Birch Creek.

Among teaching and playing at Birch Creek this summer, she has also been preparing for the big wedding, and shortly after, boot camp. Running the campus borders, and receiving instruction on proper push-up technique from lead trumpet and former Army Jazz Ambassador, Joey Tartell, has added to the fun of camp.

“Now I just have to practice getting up at 5 am,” Hany said.

Everyone at Birch Creek wishes this talented and motivated musician well as she embarks on this new chapter of her life. Hany holds a special place in Birch Creek’s heart, and she is an emulation of what the organization stands for. You never know where your next $40 instrument purchase will take you!

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