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State High, Penn State grad performs with Navy band during Fleet Week

Musician 2nd Class Margaret Smith, a State High and Penn State grad, plays the clarinet during a Navy Band Northeast concert in Central Park at the Naumburg Bandshell during Fleet Week New York on Tuesday.
Musician 2nd Class Margaret Smith, a State High and Penn State grad, plays the clarinet during a Navy Band Northeast concert in Central Park at the Naumburg Bandshell during Fleet Week New York on Tuesday. Photo provided

Margaret Smith loves “Anchors Aweigh.”

The Navy Musician 2nd Class spent her years in the band at State College Area High School playing it over and over. It is the Little Lions fight song, and if you’re in the band, that means you spend a lot of time practicing it, a lot of time marching to it and a lot of time playing it in the stands at football games.

It was time well spent.

Smith went from the State High band to the Blue Band while she studied at Penn State.

“I graduated with my music degrees from Penn State and I was looking for a way to continue performing and I always had an interest in military bands. I started looking into the various bands,” she said.

The daughter of George Pedlow, of State College, Smith found the perfect fit for herself and her clarinet in the Navy, the branch of the service whose fight song is also “Anchors Aweigh.”

“It’s a way to do what we love, and also a way to serve in the military and serve the country through music,” Smith said.

She plays with both the pops and ceremonial ensembles of the Navy Band Northeast. This week, she is playing in New York City during the annual Fleet Week events. She has been there four times in her eight years with the Navy. This year, she said, is her last.

“There is nowhere in America that has such a diverse population as New York City,” said Lt. Gregory Fritz, Navy Band Northeast director. “Fleet Week New York serves as an opportunity for Marines, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen to engage with the citizens of New York and let them know what we do on a daily basis. These interactions put a face to the Navy and make it tangible, that these people are the ones out there preserving our freedom and interests around the world.”

And part of that is the music.

“Representing the Navy through our concerts and connecting with audience members has been a great honor and a rewarding experience,” Smith said.

But it all started with the steps she took in Happy Valley.

“I’m grateful for the music education that I received both in State College and at Penn State — the teachers I had there who prepared me to be a professional musician,” she said.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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