Colonel Jason K. Fettig is the 28th Director of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. He joined in 1997 as a clarinetist and soon became a frequently featured soloist with both the band and the Marine Chamber Orchestra. After serving four years in the organization, he was selected as an Assistant Director, and he conducted his first concert with the Marine Band on Aug. 1, 2001. He was commissioned a first lieutenant in July 2002, promoted to captain in August 2003, and became the band’s Executive Officer the following year. He was promoted to major in August 2007 and to lieutenant colonel in July 2014, one week before assuming leadership of “The President’s Own.” He was promoted to his present rank in August 2017 in the Roosevelt Room by President Donald Trump. He is the third Director of “The President’s Own” to be promoted to colonel in a White House ceremony.
As Director, Col. Fettig is the music adviser to the White House and regularly conducts the Marine Band and Marine Chamber Orchestra at the Executive Mansion. He led the musical program for the Inaugurations of President Donald Trump and President Joseph Biden and the State Funeral of George H.W. Bush. He also serves as music director of Washington, D.C.’s historic Gridiron Club, a position held by every Marine Band Director since John Philip Sousa.
During his time as Director, Col. Fettig has led the band for numerous major national events both at the White House and throughout the country. He conducted national broadcast performances for the 200th Anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, three Independence Day specials from the White House, a live Veterans Day performance with The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, and an appearance on the David Letterman Show at the invitation of Michelle Obama in New York. He has also conducted the Band and Chamber Orchestra live on NBC’s Today Show and on the PBS special “In Performance at the White House.” Fettig leads frequent concerts throughout the Washington, D.C., area and across the country during the band’s annual national tour. He has regularly collaborated in performance with world-class artists across a wide range of genres, from legendary journalist Jim Lehrer, to clarinetist Ricardo Morales and Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, to pop superstars Jordin Sparks and Lady Gaga. In May 2019, Col. Fettig led the Marine Band on its first international appearance since 2001 with multiple performances and broadcasts throughout Japan. Live performances by the Marine Band under his direction are often heard on National Public Radio and he has twice partnered with the National Symphony Orchestra and their Music Director Gianandrea Noseda for special joint performances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Fettig has continued to bring renowned guest conductors to the podium of “The President’s Own,” including JoAnn Falletta, Bramwell Tovey, and John Williams.
In May 2019, Col. Fettig and the Marine Band, in partnership with the All-Star Orchestra conducted by Gerard Schwarz, won an Emmy at the 62nd Annual New York Emmy Awards for a program entitled “New England Spirit.” Fettig also represented the Marine Corps at the White House when military bands were awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Donald Trump in 2019.
Throughout his career with the Marine Band, Col. Fettig has been deeply committed to music education and has taken an active role in the evolution and expansion of the many educational initiatives of “The President’s Own.” He began an interactive Young People’s Concert series in 2006 and authored, hosted, and conducted this popular annual event until 2015. He has made a priority of maintaining a significant mentorship presence in schools during the band’s annual national concert tours, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, he spearheaded a remarkable virtual expansion of the band’s online educational resources, performances and productions, an effort that has directly reached over 100,000 students so far. Included in these innovative new programs is a video series entitled the “Digital Rehearsal Hall,” which provides viewers a behind-the-scenes view into the working rehearsal process of the Marine Band. Fettig has served as a clinician or guest conductor at over 40 universities and colleges. He often teaches at international conducting symposia, and he has appeared as conductor for numerous national honor band and All-State festivals around the country, leading both bands and orchestras.
In 2014, shortly after assuming command of the Marine Band, Col. Fettig launched an ambitious project to re-record all of the marches of John Philip Sousa and provide free performance and educational materials online to schools and ensembles worldwide. In addition to his focus on preserving and celebrating historic band repertoire and performance practice, Col. Fettig remains a fervent advocate for contemporary American music, and has exponentially increased the Marine Band’s leadership in bringing new music into the canon. During his tenure as Marine Band Director, Fettig has commissioned and/or conducted the world premieres of nearly three dozen works, including substantial new pieces by James Stephenson, Jacob Bancks, Jennifer Higdon, David Rakowski, Narong Prangcharoen, Peter Boyer, Zhou Tian, Jessica Meyer, Michael Gilbertson, Dominick DiOrio, Donald Grantham, and Jonathan Leshnoff.
Col. Fettig is a 1993 graduate of Manchester Central High School in New Hampshire and holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in both clarinet performance (1997) and music education (1998), and a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Maryland, College Park (2005). He studied clarinet with Michael Sussman and David Martins, and his principal conducting teachers were Malcolm W. Rowell and James Ross. Additionally, Col. Fettig received instruction from several other renowned conductors, including Osmo Vänskä and Otto Werner Mueller.
In 2014, he was elected as a member of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association, and serves on the board of directors for several national organizations, including the John Philip Sousa Foundation and The National Band Association.