Alum reaches out with music |

Alum reaches out with music

Sara Tabin, Park Record intern

Looking closely at the ensemble of close-cropped military haircuts bobbing in time with the music, one might recognize a familiar face near the back of the stage. It is Park City High School alumnus Emily Wheaton. But instead of the Miners’ signature red, she is wearing her Air Force blues.

Emily Wheaton is using music to touch lives as a United States Air Force Bandsman. Stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, Wheaton’s unit travels north to Maine and west to Tennessee to deliver the Air Force message through community outreach performance.

"My unit’s mission statement is to ‘honor and inspire, communicate and recruit,’" said Wheaton.

"I go out and touch people in a way that many musicians don’t have the opportunity to do; I’m honoring those that have sacrificed so much and seen so much."

Last month while touring in Boston, Emily was approached after a show by an older woman who thanked Wheaton and her ensemble for lifting her spirits. The woman had lost everything to a house fire the day before after canceling her homeowner’s insurance. She had nothing.

From her first musical experience playing the piano at age five through her journey in the Park City School District music program, Wheaton was always a musician. In fifth grade she picked up her first string instrument, the cello, and in sixth grade she joined Treasure Mountain’s jazz band as a bassist.

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Wheaton started playing in the PCHS band program under Chris Taylor during Taylor’s second year as the high school’s band director and she credits him with her musical success.

"Without that program I would not have been able to go to school for music and pursue a career as a musician. Without Taylor’s inspiration and him pushing me I wouldn’t be where I am today."

After graduating Park City High School in 2006, Wheaton began studying at the University of Denver. In 2008 she transferred to The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, graduating in 2011.

Wheaton currently has a pending assignment to move to Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, Japan in August where she will remain for the next two years. "After that," says Wheaton, "it’s open ended."