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"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Once Upon a Time

By Master Sgt. Kristin duBois | United States Marine Band | February 1, 2018

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The Marine Band, conducted by Capt. Ryan J. Nowlin, will present a free concert titled “Once Upon a Time...” at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 4 at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria. A pre-concert string quartet will perform at 1:15 p.m. in the lobby for patrons.

 

Capt. Nowlin created this program around the premise of storytelling through music. He said, “The timeless tradition of storytelling connects past generations to the present. It informs, explores, and most importantly, inspires.” What better tale to tell than the story of America with Nowlin’s own arrangements of selections from Ragtime, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and will comprise the entire second half of the concert. The musical, based on the 1975 classic novel by E. L. Doctorow, tells the story of three very different groups in the United States in the early 20th century. Coalhouse Walker Jr., a talented Harlem musician, represents the African American community; Mother embodies the upper-class suburbanite as the matriarch of a wealthy white family in New Rochelle, New York; and the story of Eastern European immigrants is told by Tateh, a Jewish immigrant from Latvia. The individual, very human stories shared in Ragtime are the threads that make up the broader tapestry of the story that is the melting pot of early 20th century America.

 

The first half of the concert begins with the classic Italian Overture to Don Pasquale, transcribed by one of the Marine Band’s oldest alums Master Gunnery Sgt. Pasquale Pulvirenti. While the overture weaves the tale of love, loss, mistaken identity, and forgiveness, the transcription speaks to the Marine Band’s storied 220-year history. Pulvirenti joined the Marine Band as a clarinet player in 1945 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and served until 1975. He penned the transcription to Don Pasquale in 1960 and it was a favorite of 25th Director Col. John Bourgeois who programmed it frequently. Pulvirenti, now in his 90s, continues to make contributions to the Marine Band when he performed with the alumni band in 2010 and 2015 and shared his photos and memorabilia with the historian for the archives.

 

In addition to other great stories including Leonard Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from On the Town, and John Williams’ “Adventures on Earth” from Steven Spielberg’s film E. T. (The Extra-Terrestrial), the concert will feature violin soloist Gunnery Sgt. Erika Sato’s performance of the Carmen Fantasy by Pablo de Sarasate. “Not only is Carmen one of the most popular operas of all time, but this piece allows us to showcase a violin with our band,” Nowlin said.

 

The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall at Northern Virginia Community College is located at 4915 East Campus Drive in Alexandria. The concert is free, no tickets are required, and free parking is available in the adjacent garage.

 

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