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The Presidents Own

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Chamber Series Melodic Puzzles

By Master Sgt. Kristin duBois | United States Marine Band | March 23, 2015

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March 23, 2015 -- class="Composer" style="line-height: 150%;">For some musicians, performing chamber music can be one of the most demanding but satisfying accomplishments they do. Staff Sgt. Gerald Novak, the coordinator for this week’s Chamber Music Series concert, knows all too well. “Being part of a small group of people dedicated to working together as a cohesive team to bring the notes on the page to life requires full engagement from all concerned,” he said. “For those of us in ‘The President’s Own,’ the Chamber Music Series offers a chance to hone our craft on a smaller scale, the opportunity to connect with colleagues in an intimate setting, and explore unique works in the repertoire with our audience.” His program, which will take place at 2 p.m., Sunday, March 29 at the John Philip Sousa Band Hall and stream live at www.marineband.marines.mil, features a diverse sampling of selections, from Michael Levin’s arrangement of Claude Debussy’s Trois Chansons for trombone quartet and Novak’s own arrangement of Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 for soprano saxophone and a quintet of marimbas, to Steve Reich’s remix of songs from the band Radiohead called Radio Rewrite.

The program also includes Brian Perkins’ Travel for clarinet quartet. American composer Perkins composed the piece in 2013 for a former student and members of the clarinet studio at Missouri State University in Springfield. In October 2013 a clarinet quartet from the Marine Band premiered Travel at the U.S. Navy Band’s Clarinet Day in Washington, D.C. One member of the quartet, Gunnery Sgt. Tracey Paddock, was Perkins’ clarinet teacher for a semester during his master’s degree at Florida State University in Tallahassee. He said that because they were nearly the same age, the lessons were highly collaborative and peer-based.  

Years later, after composing Travel in 2013, he sent it as a way of showing his appreciation for all of the work they did together at Florida State. “It was extremely exciting to venture to Washington, D.C., and spend time on base, meet all of the service band clarinetists and take in the atmosphere,” Perkins said. “Nothing takes the place of a live performance with musicians unrolling your work in front of others. There’s thrill, there’s nerves, there’s anticipation, there’s the reception of the piece … just everything happening at once that is a real high for a composer.”

“Since the premiere, Tracey and I are in touch regularly, either to discuss additional performances of Travel by the quartet she’s involved with or by other branch quartets that have picked it up. What I took away from lessons with her stayed with me longer than with other clarinet instructors. She is extremely talented and dedicates herself to working hard and recognizes that she still has a lot to learn, which I think is the marking of a true musician. I always enjoyed the story she tells about her audition for the U.S. Marine Band and have tried to catch her performances with the band when they tour through southwest Missouri,” he said.

Since the launch of Perkins’ energetic work, it has enjoyed widespread performance both in the United States and overseas. “I like to compose works that create a visual impression in the mind,” he said. “My music isn’t really meant to tell a story, but it is meant to take the listener to the same visual place I went when composing the work. In addition, I like for the audience to have just as much fun listening to the piece as the musicians do performing it—challenging them to follow the form, find harmonic or melodic puzzles hidden in the parts, discover any musical quotes, enjoy the orchestration, etc.  If I can achieve those two goals, then I consider the piece to be solid.”

The Chamber Music Series performance will take place at 2 p.m., Feb. 15, 2015 at the John Philip Sousa Band Hall, Marine Barracks Annex which is located at the corner of 7th and K Streets in Washington, D.C. The concert is free and no tickets are required. Free parking is available in the lot under the overpass across the street. The performance will stream live at www.marineband.marines.mil.

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Complete concert program and notes

Directions and parking information


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