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The Presidents Own

 

The Presidents Own

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Marine Band Alumni Wrap Up Homecoming

By SSgt Rachel Ghadiali | United States Marine Band | July 21, 2015

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Last week “The President’s Own” welcomed back more than 100 former members of the Marine Band, Marine Chamber Orchestra, and support staff for a reception, tours, rehearsals, and concerts. Alums traveled from as far away as 2,800 miles and from as far back as 1945. Some served 20-30 years and retired from the Marine Corps while others served a shorter time but look at their time in the band fondly.

Alumni attendees checked in on Tuesday and visited their old stomping grounds—Marine Barracks Washington—and toured the new Marine Barracks Annex prior to band rehearsals. That night almost 200 people enjoyed a reception where current and former members spent time reminiscing and swapping stories along with a traditional cake cutting ceremony. Former member Pasquale “Pat” Pulvirenti was the oldest member present, having joined the band in 1945 and served under seven presidents to include President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

On a perfect Wednesday summer evening, the alumni band sat in formation on the West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol to perform together. Some alumni have continued their playing while others just brushed off the cobwebs in order to play with former colleagues. The concert began with retired Marine Band vocalist Master Gunnery Sgt. Michael Ryan introducing Director Lieutenant Col. Jason K. Fettig. From the stage, Lt. Col. Fettig said:

“Just this last Saturday the band celebrated its 217th birthday and on the stage behind me you see represented nearly a third of that storied history with Marines whose service has spanned the last 70 years. We are so grateful that so many of our alumni have joined us this week for a week of music making and stories and camaraderie.”

Ryan, the longtime voice of “The President’s Own” then joked with the audience: “You might look up at the stage and see that the hairlines may have receded some over the years. But on the other hand, the waistlines have filled out a bit, so it all works out.”

Supportive friends, family members, and many other former members and current members of “The President’s Own” sat in the audience by tourists and loyal patrons to cheer on the alumni. High school music students in the audience were thrilled when they heard the band perform works the teenagers had played themselves.

The 25th Marine Band Director Colonel John R. Bourgeois, USMC (Ret.), and 27th Director Michael J. Colburn, USMC (Ret.), conducted the band along with former Assistant Director Dennis R. Burian, USMC (Ret.). Colburn relived his early days in the band by playing in the euphonium section then coming forward to the podium to conduct.

July 21, 2015 -- Throughout the concert on Wednesday evening and then again on Thursday evening at the Sylvan Theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument, alumni performed music by John Williams, Franz von Suppé, Gustav Holst, and John Philip Sousa. Children in the front row playfully conducted and audience members pulled out their smartphones, selfie sticks, and zoom lenses to capture bits and pieces of the performances. Throughout the week, there were hundreds of hand-shakes and hugs, but once John Philip Sousa’s immortal march “The Stars and Stripes Forever” began, the band members and the audience alike added foot-tapping and cheers.

See photos of the events


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