Twenty-sixth Director of “The President’s Own” Colonel Timothy W. Foley led the United States Marine Band into its third century of service to the President of the United States and the United States Marine Corps. Foley was a strong and visionary leader for “The President’s Own,” lifting the organization to new heights in terms of its musical and ceremonial reputation. His skills as a musician and conductor are among the greatest ever witnessed by the organization, and were exceed only by his modesty and unwavering commitment to excellence. Foley’s dedication to the Marine Band and commitment to advancement through musical versatility and diverse repertoire are evident in the present-day distinction of the men and women of “The President’s Own.”
Foley began his musical career on the clarinet. He studied with Anthony Gigliotti of The Philadelphia Orchestra while attending high school in his hometown of Berwick, Pa. After graduation, Foley studied clarinet at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and, for two years, was a member of the American Wind Symphony Orchestra in Pittsburgh.
Foley enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to “The President’s Own” in June 1968. He served as a clarinetist for 11 years, until he was named Assistant Director in 1979 and commissioned a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps. Seventeen years later, on July 11, 1996, the band’s 198th birthday, Foley was designated Director of “The President’s Own.” In October of that year, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Foley was promoted to colonel in an Oval Office ceremony performed by President Bill Clinton in June 1999. He also received the Legion of Merit, presented that day by 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps General Charles C. Krulak.
In his first years as Director, Foley brought to the podium two distinguished American conductors, Leonard Slatkin and Frederick Fennell, a first in Marine Band history. He continued this tradition early in the new millennium, bringing to “The President’s Own” podium renowned film composer John Williams, a recipient of multiple Academy Awards, and Osmo Vänskä, Minnesota Orchestra music director and one of today’s most respected conductors.
In 1998, during the Marine Band’s bicentennial year, Foley conducted “The President’s Own” for inaugural ceremonies of the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in Cincinnati. The Marine Band was the first musical institution to be selected for the Hall of Fame.
In July 2001, Colonel Foley led “The President’s Own” in Switzerland for the 10th International Conference of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles. The trip included a gala performance at the Luzern Culture and Convention Center in Luzern, Switzerland. In a testament to Foley’s dedication to the creation of new music for the wind band, the concert featured the international première of David Rakowski’s Ten of a Kind, a work commissioned by “The President’s Own” that later was selected as a finalist for the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in Music.
Toward the end of his career, Foley was successful in expanding the Marine Band’s total organization from 143 to 154 enlisted members. The 11 new positions were filled Oct. 1, 2004.
Foley retired July 17, 2004, in a gala change of command concert and ceremony at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center, Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria Campus, hosted by Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps General William L. “Spider” Nyland. Col Foley’s retirement received national attention, appearing on CNN, in The Washington Post and the Associated Press, and more.