April 3, 2017 --
Competition brings out the best in this Marine Band performance which will feature French horn soloist Shawn Zheng, the winner of the Marine Band’s Concerto Competition for High School Musicians, and the winning march from Sousa’s March Mania. The program will also honor the 100th birthday of Ella Fitzgerald with a medley of some of her best known songs, sung by mezzo-soprano Gunnery Sgt. Sara Sheffield. The concert will take place at 2 p.m., Sunday, April 9 at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria. It’s free, no tickets are required, and free parking is available in the adjacent garage.
The competitive spirit is strong with Zheng, a native of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and a junior at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. Of his many accomplishments and accolades, he was named a National YoungArts Foundation Winner in 2015 and 2017, a finalist in the Nashville Symphony’s Curb Concerto Competition, winner of the Southeast Horn Workshop High School Solo Competition, and winner of the Nashville Symphony League’s Thor Johnson Scholarship. Zheng was also selected to attend Interlochen’s New York Philharmonic Residency in New York this past January. He has performed in the Boston University Tanglewood Institute’s Young Artists Orchestra and, prior to attending Interlochen, he served as principal horn of the Nashville Youth Orchestra Program’s Curb Youth Symphony. The Marine Band’s Concerto Competition is unusual, though, because in addition to winning the chance to appear as a soloist with “The President’s Own,” he also received a $2,500 scholarship from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. On April 9 he will reprise his award winning performance of the first movement of Richard Strauss’ Horn Concerto No. 1, Opus 11 with the Marine Band.
The other “winning” selection has yet to be named! On April 2, the final round of Sousa’s March Mania will take place at www.facebook.com/marineband and fans will have the opportunity to choose not only the March Mania champion, but the march that will be performed on the April 9 concert. In years past, the winners have been Johannes Hanssen’s “Valdres,” Johan Halvorsen’s “Entry March of the Boyares,” and John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
The Ella Fitzgerald Medley, also featured on the concert, was arranged by Marine Band arranger Staff Sgt. Scott Ninmer who incorporated several of her most famous hits, including “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” “Oh, Lady, Be Good!,” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).”
“Choosing selections from her expansive library of recordings was quite daunting,” Ninmer said. “But fortunately for me, Assistant Director Capt. Ryan Nowlin, when he was the arranger, and Sara had already selected several pieces that would work nicely in a medley several years ago. That medley never materialized at the time, but the idea came back around this year, so Sara provided me with their choices and I narrowed it down from there.”
“I’ve always been a big fan of ‘A-Tisket, A-Tasket,’” Ninmer continued. “One of the things I love about the jazz repertoire is that it can come from any source, including Broadway hits, Tin Pan Alley classics, spirituals, Latin dance music, and for this tune, a nursery rhyme! Ella’s original 1938 recording is such a fun piece, and the band’s interactions with her adds some great comedy to the mix.”