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The Presidents Own

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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The Stars and Stripes Forever wins March Mania

By SSgt Rachel Ghadiali | United States Marine Band | April 8, 2016

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Over the past four weeks, “The President’s Own” hosted “Sousa’s March Mania,” a tournament pitting 32 marches against each other for the Marine Band online community to determine which one is the favorite. In the third year of the competition and after being defeated by Norwegian marches in 2014 and 2015, John Philip Sousa’s march “The Stars and Stripes Forever” finally won the tournament.

In late February, the directors of the Marine Band chose 32 marches accessible on the Marine Band website. The pool of competitors included several composers and different styles of marches, all hosted in the spirit of the band’s 17th Director John Philip Sousa, also known as “The March King.”

Throughout the competition, participants were introduced to marches they had never heard, suggested marches and composers to include in next year’s March Mania, and expressed grief over difficult voting decisions. There were several tight matches in the first round, with three Sousa marches knocked out of the tournament by less than 15 votes.

Band Directors and music educators incorporated the mania into their classrooms utilizing it as an educational resource, holding daily games with their students to expose them to new music while having fun and enjoying the spirit of the competition. A middle school band director from Brunswick, Ga., said, “Thank you for putting together March Mania. It is a great way to introduce these famous marches to my students. We vote at the start of class each day and highlight our winning picks. … The kids are really getting into it and ask first thing every day which march won from the day before.”

A high school band director in Washington, Ind., said, “My students love listening to the marches each day and voting. [They] are beginning to understand that music goes beyond their school walls.”

Band Director Jason Arnold, a three-year participant of Sousa’s March Mania, broke down the whole bracket during band rehearsal on Wednesday. “I'm giddy,” he said.

According to one music educator, her students “had a blast voting for their favorites. There was even a little smack talk especially when Circus Bee beat Thunderer.”

“Stars and Stripes” had two back-to-back matches against reigning Mania champs. In the third round, after spending most of the day trailing, Stars rallied overnight to defeat the 2014 competition champ, Johannes Halvorsen’s “Entry March of the Boyares” 597 to 452. Following the march, with a winking emoticon, Nicolas Marquez said, “It’s a fix! #iwearbitterwell.”

Fans followed closely when “Stars and Stripes” took on the 2015 Mania defending champ “Valdres.” With almost 2,000 votes cast, Stars battled and came out ahead 1,117 to 836. Following the announcement of the match winner, a band director in Albuquerque, N.M., said, “My students were practically crying today. Valdres was their favorite!”

The next day, active duty and former Marines pushed “Semper Fidelis” as far as they could; the lead changed hands several times, but “The Washington Post” came out on top, defeating Semper Fidelis 505 to 460. Participant Brendan Oliverio lamented, “How did Washington Post beat Semper Fidelis?”

It came down to two marches: “Stars and Stripes” and “The Washington Post.” Stars and Stripes had a landslide victory over “The Washington Post” to become the 2016 March Mania Champion with a final score of 677 to 273. And Stars always has its loyal fans and brings back memories for musicians and music lovers everywhere. Victor Keen said, “I played this my freshman year of high school. This will always be my favorite march by John Phillip Sousa.”

Some fans have been waiting for Stars to finally win Sousa’s March Mania. One participant said it is “long overdue,” another said “Finally! It’s about time Stars and Stripes wins!” Patrons called it “Brilliant,” “Flawless.” Even “the New York Yankees of Marches.” And participant Thomas Wilson called it “The Bacon of Marches.” 

Thanks to everyone for a great competition! To revisit the marches and bracket, or for the complete albums from the 2016 Sousa March Mania, click here.


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