July 28, 2014 -- The Marine Band Summer Fare concerts at 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 30 and Thursday, July 31, will highlight not only newly-appointed Marine Band Director Lt. Col. Jason K. Fettig and his program featuring a smorgasbord of foreign flavors, but also a preview of two of the band’s soloists for its upcoming National Concert Tour to the West Coast. Trumpet/cornet player Gunnery Sgt. Brad Weil will present Kenny Baker’s aptly-named showpiece “Virtuosity,” and mezzo-soprano Gunnery Sgt. Sara Dell’Omo will perform Stephen Sondheim’s “You (I) Could Drive a Person Crazy” from his Tony Award-winning musical “Company.”
Gunnery Sgt. Weil joined “The President’s Own” in November 2004. A 1998 graduate of Jasper High School in Indiana, he attended Indiana University in Bloomington, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music performance in 2003. His chosen solo, “Virtuosity,” was penned by British trumpet impresario Baker and will demonstrate the technical temerity and mental focus required to perform the piece night after night on tour. Baker was a seasoned and immensely talented touring musician who had a knack for testing the limits of his performing “chops.”
Stephen Sondheim, on the other hand, found himself testing the limits of his neighbors’ patience while writing “Company.” Although his song “You (I) Could Drive a Person Crazy,” is about Robert, a New York City bachelor, and his inability to commit to one of his three girlfriends, Sondheim is fond of telling the story about his neighbor Katherine Hepburn and how much she complained about his incessant late night piano playing. All three girlfriends in Sondheim’s song will be sung by Gunnery Sgt. Dell’Omo, who joined “The President’s Own” in May 2005 and became the first featured female vocal soloist in Marine Band history. After graduating from Jacksonville High School in Texas in 1997, she earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance in 2001 from the University of North Texas in Denton. The story has a happy ending, however. “Company” went on to win the Tony Award for Broadway’s Best Musical of 1970 and Hepburn’s sleep went uninterrupted after Sondheim bought an electric keyboard and headphones.
As for the international element of the concert, the pieces featured provide a wonderful example of the unique musical language of each of the countries represented. “From marches by the two legendary American composers W. Paris Chambers and John Philip Sousa, to the rich band traditions of Great Britain and music inspired by dances of Spain and the folklore of Finland, this program is akin to a musical trip across the Atlantic,” Lt. Col. Fettig said. “Even though the Marine Band is a historic American ensemble, we have a long history of performing great music from all around the globe, and I am delighted by the opportunity to showcase some of these fantastic works in my first full band concert as Director of “The President’s Own.’”
Summer Fare takes place at 8 p.m., Wednesdays on the West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol and Thursdays at the Sylvan Theater, on the grounds of the Washington Monument. Street parking is available or, for concerts at the Capitol, patrons may take the red line to Union Station or the blue or orange lines to the Capitol South station. For concerts at the Sylvan Theater take the blue or orange lines to the Smithsonian station. The concerts are free but weather permitting. Inclement weather announcements will be made by 6 p.m. on the band’s Concert Information Line at (202) 433-4011.