This week the Marine Band’s summer concert series continues with a musical tribute to the circus and cowboys with Karl L. King’s march “Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite” and John Williams’ The Cowboys Overture. Conducted by Assistant Director Capt. Ryan J. Nowlin, the performances will take place at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 9 at the West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol and 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 10 at the Sylvan Theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.
The music will evoke memories of the circus with King’s composition which became the theme of Barnum and Bailey’s circus. King, a baritone lover, played in several circus bands between 1910 and 1913, and was well known for his ability to compose circus marches. He composed almost 200 marches and circus “screamers.” The composer was performing with the Barnum and Bailey Band in 1913 under Ned Brill when Brill asked him to write a special march. King dedicated the march to Brill and titled it “Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite.”
One of the most popular and successful American orchestral composers of the modern age, John Williams has done for film scores and ceremonial music what King did for circus marches and Sousa for the patriotic march. His composition The Cowboys Overture is based on music from the 1972 film of the same name directed by Mark Rydell that starred John Wayne, Roscoe Lee Browne, Bruce Dern, Colleen Dewhurst, and Slim Pickens. The outer sections of the overture are exuberant, with elements of the popular hoe-down and the flavor of Aaron Copland, while the central portion is more lyrical and peaceful. It is a fun-filled and rousing score brimming with American “can do” spirit and optimism.
In addition to the circus and film selections, the program will include John Philip Sousa’s march “El Capitan,” Percy E. Fletcher’s Vanity Fair, and Aaron Copland’s “The Promise of Living” from The Tender Land. The program will also include Herman Bellstedt’s “Napoli,” featuring trumpet soloist Staff Sgt. Anthony Bellino, and Stephen Flaherty’s “Make Them Hear You” from Ragtime: An American Story, featuring baritone vocalist Master Sgt. Kevin Bennear.
Bellino joined “The President’s Own” in May 2016, and this will be his first time soloing with the band. “I chose ‘Napoli’ because I’ve enjoyed listening to it ever since I was a kid,” Bellino said. “I remember hearing Wynton Marsalis play it on his CD and being completely blown away and inspired as a 12 year old.”
“I really like the variations on the theme. It is well known and there are many quick arpeggios that outline changing chords thrown in between the thematic notes that give the piece a sense of weightlessness and freedom,” he continued. “The entire solo is very demanding; it needs a lot of flexibility and agility on the horn to pull it off convincingly. I hope the audience will enjoy the light heartedness of the piece.”
Bennear, a seasoned soloist with the band, is looking forward to performing “Make Them Hear You.” He explains: “This is one of my very favorite songs from all of musical theater. The lyrics are really powerful and the overall message of the song is to stand up for what’s right. Stand up for a cause, for freedom, for something just and right even if it costs you everything. The melody is brilliantly tailored to the lyrics so I think the audience will love the sonic experience. It was originally written for Broadway orchestra, but Capt. Nowlin arranged it for band. It is gorgeous and lush. They’ll love the melody, they’ll love the orchestration, and they’ll really appreciate the power of the lyrics. It’s a special song.”
The concerts are free but weather permitting. Concert cancellations will be announced by 6 p.m. at (202) 433-4011 and www.facebook.com/marineband.
MARINE BARRACKS WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Complete program and notes