Colonel Michael J. Colburn was the 27th Director of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. During his more than twenty years with “The President’s Own,” Col Colburn served as principal euphonium, Assistant Director, and from July 2004-14, the Director who led the Marine Band in its third century.
As Director of “The President’s Own,” Col Colburn was music adviser to the White House. He regularly conducted the Marine Band at the Executive Mansion and at all Presidential Inaugurations. He also served as music director of Washington, D.C.’s prestigious Gridiron Club, a position held by every Marine Band Director since John Philip Sousa, and is a member of the Alfalfa Club and the American Bandmaster’s Association.
After joining “The President’s Own” in May 1987 as a euphonium player, Col Colburn regularly performed at the White House, in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., 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. In addition to his euphonium duties, Col Colburn was active as a conductor for “The President’s Own” chamber music series. 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. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel one day before he assumed leadership of “The President’s Own” on July 17, 2004. He was promoted to colonel on July 3, 2007 by President George W. Bush in an Oval Office ceremony and awarded the Legion of Merit on July 11, 2008, the Marine Band’s 210th birthday, by Marine Corps Commandant, General James T. Conway.
As Director, Col Colburn attracted prominent guest conductors to the podium of “The President’s Own,” including Leonard Slatkin, José Serebrier, and renowned film composer John Williams. Col Colburn was deeply committed to seeking new works for the Marine Band, and was directly involved in commissions from composers David Rakowski (Ten of a Kind, Sibling Revelry, Cantina), David Chaitkin (Celebration), Melinda Wagner (Scamp), and Jennifer Higdon (Percussion Concerto), and Michael Gandolfi. Col Colburn 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 is a native of St. Albans, Vt., where he graduated from Bellows Free Academy 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.