The President’s Own” United States Marine Band musically transports patrons to the Land of the Northern Lights as it performs the music of several notable Scandinavian composers at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 8, at Northern Virginia Community College’s Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center in Alexandria, Va. The concert is free – no tickets are required – and free parking is available in the adjacent garage. A pre-concert string quartet with clarinet will perform music in the lobby beginning at 1:15 p.m.
Conducted by Assistant Director Maj. Michelle A. Rakers, the concert will begin with Danish composer Carl Nielsen’s Overture to Masquerade, followed by Søren Hyldgaard’s Rapsodia Borealis featuring principal trombone Gunnery Sgt. Samuel Barlow. The title means Rhapsody of the North and, while the piece is technically challenging, Hyldgaard hoped to emphasize the tender, lyrical side of the modern concert trombone.
The last two pieces of the first half are both very nationalist in nature, capturing the spirit and identity of their respective countries. Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia, Opus 26, is his most well-known work and considered by some as Finland’s second national anthem. The symphonic poem was composed in the late 1800s and became a symbol of Finland’s struggle for independence as the oppressive Russian empire stifled the press and free speech. Viktor Widqvist’s March, “Under the Blue and Yellow Flag,” the march of the Swedish armed forces and the de facto national march of Sweden, similarly captures the patriotism of the country and was a very popular piece during World War II. The Swedish flag is blue with a yellow cross.
The concert’s second half will begin with the waltz “Kroll’s Balklange” by Danish composer Hans Christian Lumbye, followed by Funeral March in Memory of Rikard Nordraak by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. Grieg composed the piece after the passing of Nordraak, his friend and fellow composer, and Grieg valued the piece so much that he asked that it be played at his own funeral.
Concluding the concert, mezzo-soprano Gunnery Sgt. Sara Dell’Omo will sing Gösta Nystroem’s Sånger Vid Havet (Songs by the Sea), followed by Johan Halvorsen’s well-known work Entry March of the Boyares. The “Boyares” march was the winning march in the 2014 Sousa’s March Mania. Presented by “The President’s Own,” Sousa’s March Mania is a bracket style tournament pitting 32 marches against each other for the Marine Band online community to determine which one is the favorite. Last year it came down to the final two marches: “Boyares” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” In the end, the Marine Band’s Norwegian friends rallied behind “Boyares” and overtook “Stars and Stripes” with a final score of 1,265 votes to 966.
Complete concert program and notes
Directions and parking information
March Mania details and bracket download