Sept. 25, 2014 -- On Sunday, Oct. 5 at 2 p.m., members of “The President’s Own” will present a free performance at the John Philip Sousa Band Hall in Washington, D.C. The concert will include Kenji Bunch’s “The Three G’s,” György Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B-flat, BWV 1051, and Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quartet in C minor, Opus 60.
Violinist and program coordinator Gunnery Sgt. Erika Sato offers her thoughts on the program:
Overall, the program is a mix of new discoveries and old favorites. The first half of the program leans more toward a bright energetic mood and the second half is heavier—dramatic and evocative. Simply put, these works are pieces of music I listen to. Interestingly enough, as a violinist I was drawn to two pieces that feature viola in its best light. They are fantastic; one fresh and original and the other a personal favorite of mine.
The viola began as an orchestral instrument in a supportive role and was given easy accompanying harmonic lines. But Bunch’s “The Three G’s” spotlights the viola as a soloist; the piece is innovative, cool, virtuosic, and perfectly written for the instrument. I could not imagine it sounding half as good on the violin!
Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles is an exuberant standard in the wind quintet repertoire. I love that it’s an accessible modern piece that musicians are excited to perform and audiences can share in that energy when they hear the quirky rhythms and effervescent textures.
Bach’s Brandenburg No. 6 is not as popular as the other Brandenburgs; there are no violins, which was extremely unconventional and inventive for Bach’s time. The piece highlights the rich, warm lower string registers and features two solo violas joined by the cello in a showy accompaniment during the slow movement.
To conclude the program, Brahms’ C minor Piano Quartet is a thrilling turbulent ride; heroic, restless, heart wrenching, tragic. A work known to be allegorical, Brahms initially began composing this piece as a young man, dropped it, and then reworked it 17 years later, completing it at a tumultuous time in his personal life. I love the whole piece but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the slow third movement where the string quartet is showcased in a gorgeous and poignant dialogue.
The concert is free; no tickets are required. Free parking is available in the parking lot under the overpass on 7th Street across from the annex. The closest Metro stations are the Washington Navy Yard (green line) and Eastern Market (blue/orange/silver lines). The concert will also stream live on the Marine Band website beginning at 2 p.m.