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The Presidents Own

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Young Composer/Conductor Mentor Project

By Staff Sgt. Brian Rust | United States Marine Band | June 15, 2015

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June 15, 2015 -- This week, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band will serve as the ensemble-in-residence for the National Band Association’s (NBA) 2015 Young Composer/Conductor Mentor Project. The project is the only competition of its kind that allows young artists, ages 29 and under, to work with renowned mentors in their field free of charge and to collaborate with a world-class musical ensemble.

Each year for the project, three young composers and three young conductors are chosen out of a pool of applicants from across the country. Each student conductor was paired with a student composer in mid-April. With the assistance of professional mentors they collaborate to rehearse, record, and present a live performance of the composers’ works. The 2015 Mentor Project will culminate with a concert by the Marine Band of the three selected works conducted by each of the young conductors. The free performance will take place at 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 16, in John Philip Sousa Band Hall at the Marine Barracks Annex in southeast Washington, D.C.

“The concert provides a culminating event for the young composers and conductors to experience a live performance of the selected compositions,” said Dr. Paula Crider, the Young Conductor Mentor Project coordinator and University of Texas professor emerita. “The resulting recordings provide a terrific boost for the careers of these talented young individuals. And having ‘The President’s Own’ serve as the performing ensemble? It just doesn’t get any better than that!”

The main purpose of the initiative is to recognize and provide encouragement to young composers and conductors who otherwise would not enjoy the opportunity to collaborate, and to work with outstanding mentors. The project originally began in 2000 under the direction of professor and composer Mark Camphouse and was only for young composers. After the second year of the project, Frank Ticheli, one of the composer mentors, recommended that young conductors be added to the initiative as they would benefit greatly from the score study and collaboration with the young composers. For the 2015 project, Charles Andersen of Crestview, Fla.; Joseph Higgins of Chicago; and Joshua Kearney of East Lansing, Mich., were selected out of a field of 72 applicants to be the conductors. The three composer candidates include Ryan Lindveit of Houston, Anthony O’Toole of Philadelphia, and Joe Krycia of Clinton Township, Mich.

The competition for selection is rigorous. In addition to sending a curriculum vitae, the conductor applicants were required to submit a DVD of themselves conducting two contrasting pieces, a written submission of a score study, a complete list of repertoire conducted, a letter stating career goals, letters of recommendation, and a three minute video clip of them teaching a musical concept. The application requirements for the young composers are similar, but instead of a conducting video, candidates had to submit a full score of an original work for wind band.

All six candidates participate in the event free of charge and all professional mentors donate their time. “I’m thrilled to join Professor Camphouse in helping to make the most out of this unique opportunity for young composers,” said Marine Band Assistant Director 1st Lt. Ryan J. Nowlin. Nowlin, who previously served as one of the Marine Band’s staff arrangers, will serve as one of three composer mentors, along with Camphouse and composer Dana Wilson. The conductor mentors are all noted experts in the wind ensemble field and include Crider, Frank Battisti, Rick Good, and Marine Band Director Lt. Col. Jason K. Fettig.

“I’m particularly excited about the students’ opportunities for growth in orchestration technique,” Nowlin continued. “It is an essential component of bringing their compositional ideas to life. Hearing one’s music with live musicians is the only way to get a good sense of direction on how to improve. With the idealized tone colors offered by the Marine Band, students will have a chance to hear what works and learn ways to alter scoring for decidedly improved results.”

Nowlin’s interest in composition began at an early age, mainly by doing arrangements of works before completing his own original scores. However, he understands how important having a mentor can be as it was under the mentorship of composer Anne McGinty that Nowlin’s composing skills were honed and really flourished.

The three-day Mentor Project will largely take place at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., between the participants and the mentors. However, the culminating concert will take place in John Philip Sousa Band Hall at the Marine Barracks Annex in southeast Washington, D.C., at 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 16, and is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. Sousa Band Hall is located at 7th & K Streets, SE, Washington, D.C., and free parking is available under the overpass on 7th street.

“Past Young Conductor and Composer winners have gone on to distinguish themselves in the fields of composition and wind band conducting,” Crider concluded. “Participants, both young and not so young, come away from this experience energized and with an even greater passion for the art of creating and re-creating great music.”

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