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United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Orchestral Titans

By by Staff Sgt. Brian Rust | United States Marine Band | January 11, 2016

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The Marine Chamber Orchestra will perform its first concert of the 2016 season at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 17, at Northern Virginia Community College’s Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center in Alexandria. Conducted by Director Lt. Col. Jason K. Fettig, the performance, aptly titled “Titans,” will highlight how three titans of classical music tell the stories of other larger-than-life characters within our world, from kings to philosophers to heroes. The concert is free and no tickets are required. Free parking is available in the adjacent garage. A Woodwind Trio will perform pre-concert music in the lobby beginning at 1:15 p.m.

The program will begin with George Frederic Handel’s Overture to Music for the Royal Fireworks, a vivid soundtrack to a monarch’s monumental 18th century fireworks display. After the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed bringing an end to the War of Austrian Succession, Great Britain’s King George II was eager to host a grand fireworks celebration hoping to frame the resolution as a great victory for England. The king wanted music for the entire celebration that would be no less grand than the fireworks and Handel was the obvious choice as composer for the work. His suite contains an overture and five dance movements and the overture is by far the longest of the movements. The dramatic introduction includes the traditional military side drums signaling “fire” before launching into a joyous Allegro that highlights the competing choirs of trumpets and horns that were central to the grand martial flare required for the royal spectacle.

Following Handel’s Overture, the chamber orchestra will perform Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade, inspired by the characters in Plato’s masterpiece, The Symposium, where the fathers of philosophy gather for an imaginary discussion, including Phaedrus, Pausanias, Aristophanes, Erixymachus, Agathon, Socrates, and Alcibiades. While inspired by an ancient work, the Serenade includes virtually all of the musical styles Bernstein would come to be known for: beautiful, lyrical melodies; bright and sophisticated dance forms; and jazzy rhythms and harmonies. And, although the piece is one of Bernstein’s earliest compositions, many consider it one of his very best works. The piece was written for solo violin and orchestra, and will feature solo violinist Staff Sgt. Christopher Franke.

The concert will conclude in grand fashion with Gustav Mahler’s First Symphony. Mahler told fellow composer Jean Sibelius that “The symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.” True to this ideal, almost all of Mahler’s nine symphonies are massive in their scope, orchestration, and concept. His Symphony No. 1 in D was no exception and was cast in five movements. Mahler subtitled the entire work Titan, claiming that the “Titan” of the symphonic poem referred simply to “a strong heroic man, his life and sufferings, his battles and defeat at the hands of Fate.” Like most of his orchestral works, the original symphony was composed for an ensemble of monumental proportions. The substantial elements of the work were creatively distilled down to the instrumentation of a modest chamber orchestra in the present arrangement by Klaus Simon, completed in 2006.

Complete program and program notes

Directions and parking information


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