Washington, DC -- style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt;">The Marine Band will once again inaugurate the summer season of performances at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts with the Summer Blast Off at 8 p.m., Sunday, May 28 conducted by Director Lt. Col. Jason K. Fettig. For 46 years “The President’s Own” has brought the music of the White House to the lawn of the Filene Center under brilliantly lit stars, torrential downpours, and spectacular fireworks displays. This year’s program of Americana is sure to delight patrons as it offers a little something for everyone who waves the “red, white, and blue.”
The concert begins with “Let Freedom Ring,” a fanfare by Assistant Director Capt. Ryan Nowlin. Before “The Star-Spangled Banner” officially became the national anthem in 1931, there were many popular hymns that served as de facto anthems for the United States, including “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” The lyrics of this patriotic American song were written by Samuel F. Smith and set to the melody of “God Save the Queen,” the national anthem of the United Kingdom. “Let Freedom Ring” is based on “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and was premièred by the U.S. Marine Band on Jan. 21, 2013, at the second inaugural of President Barack Obama. Drawing his inspiration for this piece directly from Smith’s patriotic words, Capt. Nowlin says his “simplistic treatment of the theme is to portray a deep reverence.” Shining through the texture on numerous occasions, great emphasis is placed on the lyrics “land where my fathers died,” a strong reminder that America would not be what it is were it not for the sacrifices of those who have gone before us. Other patriotic selections include John Philip Sousa’s march, “The Stars and Stripes Forever” and a medley of service songs known as A Salute to the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
The Marine Band will spotlight several soloists during the Summer Blast Off. Euphonium players Master Sgt. Mark Jenkins and Gunnery Sgt. Ryan McGeorge will perform a clever and witty arrangement of Jean-Baptiste Arban and Herbert L. Clarke’s “The Carnival of Venice,” while the clarinet section will display feats of musical strength during the Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s “Tiger Rag” from Tribute to Benny Goodman. Vocalists Gunnery Sgt. Sara Sheffield and Master Sgt. Kevin Bennear will invite the audience to “be their guests” as they debut a new arrangement of songs from Disney’s latest adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.
Science fiction fans will appreciate a nod to the “Star Wars” saga with John Williams’ “The Jedi Steps and Finale” from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The movement begins with the music of the Jedi and moves into a final montage of all of the main themes in Williams’ incredible symphonic tapestry. And no Summer Blast Off is complete without Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s exhilarating Overture Solennelle, “1812,” Opus 49. Be sure to stay for the best fireworks show in town!
The concert is free and tickets are not required. The gates will open at 6:30 p.m., and will close when the park reaches maximum capacity. A fireworks viewing area will open at approximately 9:30 p.m., following the Marine Band’s performance, with the display set to start at 9:45 p.m. The Filene Center is located at 1551 Trap Road in Vienna, Va. Patrons are welcome to bring blankets or lawn chairs for seating in the lawn area. For more information call (703) 255-1900 or visit www.wolf-trap.org.