July 21, 2015 --
“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.
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.
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:
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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