Aug. 7, 2015 -- style="line-height: 150%;">“The President’s Own” has hosted many guest conductors throughout its 217 year history, but this week’s Summer Fare performances on Aug. 12 and 13 will feature one of its own. Tuba player Gunnery Sgt. Mark Thiele will lead the band for three selections: Antonín Dvořák’s Carnival Overture, Opus 92; Frank Ticheli’s “Amazing Grace,” and George and Ira Gershwin’s “Fascinating Rhythm” from Lady Be Good, featuring mezzo-soprano vocalist Gunnery Sgt. Sara Dell’Omo.
Thiele’s performance is the culmination of the 2015 Marine Band Conductor Training Program (CTP). Band members apply to the program and are selected by Director Lt. Col. Jason K. Fettig to broaden their skills in the area of conducting and display talents that might normally go unnoticed. With in-house training and participation in collegiate seminars, the musicians are able to experience a larger scope of thinking about the ensemble, programming, and time management. “The Conductor Training Program is another aspect of musical development for our musicians,” said Assistant Director and program manager Major Michelle A. Rakers. “It gives them the perspective from the podium, having to consider the whole of the ensemble as opposed to having to fit their individual part into the ensemble. Also, having the opportunity to work with a soloist offers them a different perspective as a soloist that they otherwise may not have.”
This year mark’s Thiele’s first time in the program. “I have the privilege of being a part of the finest tuba section in the world, and it’s very different when you stand in front of the band instead of sitting back there. I guess I just feel like I should be holding something much larger than a baton, so I feel a bit exposed,” he said. For his program, he chose music that he has enjoyed playing in the past. He said, “I wanted to program something exciting, like Carnival Overture, and something a little more subdued, like ‘Amazing Grace.’ ”
“The Conductor Training Program has taken me outside of my comfort zone and challenged me more than I thought it would,” Thiele said. “Even though they all have played under world class conductors, the musicians have been very supportive of me and very encouraging throughout the program.”
In addition to Thiele’s selections, the rest of the concert will be conducted by Rakers and will include John Philip Sousa’s march, “Yorktown Centennial;” Carl Nielsen’s Aladdin Suite; François Borne’s Carmen Fantaisie, featuring flute soloist Gunnery Sgt. Ellen Dooley; and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Toccata Marziale.
Summer Fare performances are at 8 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays through August. Wednesday concerts take place on the west terrace of the U.S. Capitol and Thursday concerts take place at the Sylvan Theater, on the grounds of the Washington Monument. Limited street parking is available. For concerts at the Capitol, patrons may take the red line to Union Station or the blue, orange, or silver lines to the Capitol South station. For concerts at the Sylvan Theater, take the blue, orange, or silver lines to the Smithsonian station. The concerts are free but weather permitting and programming is subject to change. Inclement weather announcements will be made by 6 p.m. on the band’s Concert Information Line at (202) 433-4011 and on the Marine Band’s website and social media pages.
Program and notes