Joined May 23, 1987, as a euphonium player
Assistant Director July 11, 1996-July 18, 2004
Director July 18, 2004-present
Colonel Michael J. Colburn is 27th Director of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. During his 20-year career, Col Colburn has served “The President’s Own” as principal euphonium, Assistant Director, and since July 17, 2004, the Director who is leading the Marine Band in its third century.
As Director of “The President’s Own,” Col Colburn is music advisor to the White House, regularly conducts the Marine Band at the Executive Mansion, and directs the band at Presidential Inaugurations. He also serves as music director of Washington’s Gridiron Club, a position traditionally held by the Director of the Marine Band, and in 2006 was elected to the American Bandmasters Association.
Col Colburn joined “The President’s Own” in 1987 as a euphonium player, performing at the White House, in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, and throughout the country during the band’s annual concert tour. He quickly distinguished himself as a featured soloist, and in 1990 was appointed principal euphonium. Col Colburn also was active as a conductor for “The President’s Own” chamber music series and served as a tour coordinator for the Marine Band’s annual concert tour. In 1996, he was appointed Assistant Director and commissioned a first lieutenant. He accepted the position of Senior Assistant Director and Executive Officer in 2001, and in 2002 was promoted to the rank of major. Col Colburn was promoted to lieutenant colonel the day before he assumed leadership of “The President’s Own” on July 17, 2004. He was promoted to his present rank on July 3, 2007, by President George W. Bush in an Oval Office ceremony.
While Senior Assistant Director, Col Colburn worked to strengthen and expand the reputation of “The President’s Own.” He was especially involved in the refinement of the Marine Band’s audition process and the development of the chamber music series. He also arranged for the band’s participation in numerous high-profile events. In July 2003, in celebration of the Marine Band’s 205th anniversary, he brought to the podium renowned conductor and Academy-Award winning film composer John Williams, who led the Marine Band for a gala performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. As Director, Col Colburn has continued to attract prominent guest conductors for the band, including Leonard Slatkin in 2006 and José Serebrier in 2007.
Col Colburn is deeply committed to seeking new works for “The President’s Own.” While Assistant Director, he facilitated the commissioning of David Rakowski’s Ten of a Kind, a work which was honored in 2002 as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in music. Col Colburn also has worked to expand the Marine Band’s educational outreach efforts by increasing master classes at schools throughout the nation during the band’s annual concert tour, and by initiating Music in the High Schools, a program that sends musicians from “The President’s Own” to perform in Washington, D.C., area high schools.
Col Colburn graduated from Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans, Vt., in 1982. Following high school he attended the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York in Potsdam for two years. He continued his education at Arizona State University in Tempe, where he studied euphonium with Daniel Perantoni and earned a bachelor’s degree in music performance in 1986. In 1991, Col Colburn earned a master’s degree in conducting from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., where he studied with Anthony Maiello. In addition to his duties with “The President’s Own,” Col Colburn is an active clinician and guest conductor.