July 6, 2016 -- During the summer months, musicians from “The President’s Own” are in high demand in concert twice a week on the National Mall, weekly Evening Parades at Marine Barracks Washington, frequent funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, and at countless other ceremonies and events in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. However, a few musicians are able to break away for a short time to bring a small sampling of the Marine Band to far-flung areas of the country where the concert band tradition remains strong. These appearances take place while Marine Band musicians are in a Permissive Temporary Additional Duty status, meaning they are at no cost to the government.
The Wheaton Municipal Band in Wheaton, Ill., is one such band. Founded in 1930, the band has grown to world renown under director Bruce Moss, and was even featured alongside the Marine Band in the PBS documentary, “If You Knew Sousa.” The Wheaton Municipal Band’s July 7 performance will feature the Marine Chamber Orchestra’s principal second violin and string section commander Master Gunnery Sgt. Peter Wilson, for the concert titled Fanfares, Friends, & Freedom at 7:30 p.m., in Memorial Park in Wheaton. This will be his second appearance. “I was thrilled that Bruce invited me to return as a soloist,” Wilson said. “The Wheaton Municipal Band is a powerhouse ensemble with absolutely delightful folks in its ranks.” He will perform “Souvenir d’Amerique” (Variations on “Yankee Doodle”) by Henri Vieuxtemps; the Theme from Schindler’s List by John Williams; and Meditation from Thaïs by Jules Massenet. In addition, he will share his conducting talent when he leads the band in a Sousa march and the “Superman March” by John Williams.
Despite the dearth of repertoire for solo violin and concert band, other than famous violin concertos, Wilson enjoys returning to his roots with these selections. “I love performing Schindler’s List, and the Yankee Doodle Variations are a lot of fun for the audience. I’ve been playing that piece since high school, so it’s a bit of a signature work for me,” he said.
But his connection to the Wheaton Municipal Band goes way back, as well, and comes full circle. Wilson has known Wheaton’s concert moderator Pete Friedman since their time together at Northwestern University. It was Friedman who requested Wilson perform in 2011, after having had other Marine Band soloists and Directors join the band in concert. ” Once I was there soloing, I learned that Bruce had taught [Marine Band Assistant Director then] 1stLt Nowlin at Bowling Green so we bonded over our fondness for him. I had a wonderful time working with Bruce that year,” Wilson said.
As a bonus, Marine Band baritone vocalist and concert moderator Master Sgt. Kevin Bennear will join the Wheaton Municipal Band at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 8 at the Edman Chapel at Wheaton College. He will sing medleys of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Please visit www.wheatonmunicipalband.org for more information.