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"The President's Own"


"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
Marine Band Performs at Midwest Clinic in Chicago

By Master Sgt. Amanda Simmons | United States Marine Band | December 6, 2016


In December 1946, approximately 120 band directors from the Chicago area assembled in a YMCA gymnasium for a six-hour clinic and new music reading session. By the following year, this gathering morphed into a two-day conference at a local hotel and was designated as The Midwest Band Clinic. Today The Midwest Clinic: An International Band and Orchestra Conference, is attended by 17,000 music educators, conductors, military ensembles, composers and arrangers, and professional musicians. The Marine Band has an exhibit at this gathering every year, but to celebrate its 70th anniversary, The Midwest Clinic has invited “The President’s Own” to be the featured performer.

“What better way to honor this auspicious celebration than to spotlight ‘The President’s Own’ United States Marine Band?” said Richard Crain, President of The Midwest Clinic. “It is only appropriate that America’s oldest [continuously active professional] musical organization perform during the milestone year of the world’s oldest and largest instrumental music education conference. The tremendous impact that these two revered organizations have had on the profession is immeasurable, and will undoubtedly continue for decades to come.”

In honor of this special occasion, Marine Band Director Lt. Col. Jason K. Fettig has endeavored to maximize the Marine Band’s presence at the event. The band’s participation includes a chamber music concert, two evening band performances, and a clinic on the marches of John Philip Sousa. As an added bonus for the music educators, the Marine Band will release the third volume of “The Complete Marches of John Philip Sousa” in conjunction with the conference.

8:15 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14
Skyline Ballroom W375AB, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place

The Midwest Clinic will open with a performance by ensembles from the Marine Band, highlighting the different sections of the band in creative combinations.

“We wanted the program to elicit the excitement of this momentous occasion as well as to display the diverse talents of the men and women of ‘The President’s Own,’” explains Assistant Director and former music educator Capt. Ryan J. Nowlin. “In keeping with The Midwest Clinic tradition, we have crafted a program that is filled with new music and new arrangements in addition to time-honored literature from a wide variety of composers. It is intended to balance the new with the familiar, and most importantly, to set the stage for the entire four-day conference.”

The chamber music program will be anchored by performances from both a brass and clarinet choir along with smaller ensembles representing virtually every section of the band. The program will open with John Williams’ Music for Brass, followed by a percussion ensemble’s performance of Christophe Rouse’s Ogoun Badagris, which was inspired by Haitian drumming patterns. The clarinet choir will perform three works including co-principal clarinet Staff Sgt. Patrick Morgans’ arrangement of the Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla by Mikhail Glinka. A saxophone ensemble will perform Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings [from String Quartet in B minor, Opus 11].

Closing the program will be Francis Poulenc’s Sextuor, which masterfully blends the five voices of the woodwind quintet with the piano and a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue and Riffs for big band and solo clarinet.

According to Fettig, “even though Prelude, Fugue and Riffs is scored for conventional jazz band and is thoroughly rooted in the ‘hot’ swing and blues style, Bernstein cleverly uses traditional classical elements in the music’s construction.

5:30 p.m. & 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 14
Skyline Ballroom W375AB, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place

The Marine Band’s gala performances will each be approximately 75 minutes, with slightly different programs, featuring Sousa marches, two world premières, and a homecoming for both guest conductors and a guest soloist.

Twenty-sixth Director Col. Timothy W. Foley, USMC (ret.), will return to the podium to conduct Steven Stucky’s creative setting of Henry Purcell’s Funeral Music for Queen Mary, a piece that he recorded in 2004 for the Marine Band’s educational CD Emblems.

“It was one of the last pieces I conducted and recorded with the band and it’s certainly one of the greatest pieces written for wind band in the past 50 years,” Foley said. “The combination of Purcell’s awesome—and I do mean awesome—music combined with Steven Stucky’s brilliant orchestration and embellishments is simply miraculous. Funeral Music for Queen Mary is really a kind of rhapsody on the music of Purcell. It is music that was performed at the funeral of Queen Mary II in 1695, but as heard through a lens of over 300 years. Tragically Steven Stucky died of cancer in February 2016 at a relatively young age, depriving us of one of our most promising and original American composers.”

Two other former Directors will be making an appearance on the program, marking the first time that four Marine Band Directors conduct at the same event. Col. Michael J. Colburn, USMC (ret.) (2004-2014) will conduct John Williams’ “For ‘The President’s Own,’” a spirited work that weaves together bright fanfares from the high brass, exciting rhythmic woodwind interjections, pulsing bass lines, along with many other motives, each with their own gripping kinetic energy. Having conducted the Marine Band for its 205th and 210th anniversary concerts, maestro Williams wrote “For ‘The President’s Own’” in celebration of the ensemble’s 215th anniversary in 2013 at the request of Col. Colburn, who is currently the Director of Bands at Butler University in Indianapolis.

A reunion of the Directors would not be complete without Director Emeritus Col. John R. Bourgeois, USMC (ret.). Bourgeois, one of the longest serving Marine Band Directors (1979-96), is a fixture at The Midwest Clinic and a frequent guest conductor throughout the country, as well as a visiting professor at Loyola University in New Orleans. Fittingly, Bourgeois will conduct his arrangement of the Galop from Genevieve de Brabant by Jacques Offenbach, which was the original musical source for The Marines’ Hymn.

The Directors are not the only alumni making an appearance on the program. Tom Hooten, principal trumpet for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will perform a movement of John Williams’ scintillating Trumpet Concerto complete with a newly-composed ending written by Williams specifically for this performance. Hooten served in the Marine Band from 2000-04, followed by tenures as assistant principal in the Indianapolis Symphony from 2004-06, and as principal trumpet in the Atlanta Symphony from 2006-2012.

“This piece may not be what many would expect from John Williams if they only heard his more widely known movie music,” Hooten explains. “This is a more complicated and sophisticated composition that showcases the best parts of the instrument while challenging the soloist to push the limits of lyricism and color of sound. It also has challenging parts for the band, that adds to the musical excitement.”

Regarding his homecoming Hooten notes, “Returning to the band will be a career highlight for me. I hold this group in the highest respect in terms of professionalism and quality of music. I still have many friends in the band and look forward to catching up and making music together.”

While the Marine Band is firmly dedicated to preserving the unique musical traditions established over its long history, it is equally committed to serving as a leading ensemble in the development of new repertoire for winds. James Stephenson is composing a major new work specifically for the Marine Band’s performance at the Midwest Clinic.

“Since giving the world première of Jim’s oboe concerto Duels and Dances with current principal oboe of the Chicago Symphony Alex Klein in 2011, I have been intrigued by the possibility of Jim composing a symphony for the Marine Band,” said Fettig. “Our upcoming performance at Midwest presented the perfect setting to première such a substantial new addition to the band repertoire, and his Symphony No. 2 will surely become a cornerstone in his ever-growing collection of music for winds.”

In celebration of its 70th anniversary, The Midwest Clinic commissioned a new work that the Marine Band will première during its second program. Donald Grantham’s Symphony “after Hafiz” is cast in three movements that are inspired by the beloved 14th century Persian poet Hafiz.

Both band concerts are free, but will be ticketed. For ticket information, please contact The Midwest Clinic directly at (630) 861-6125.


9 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 15
Skyline Ballroom W375AB, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place

The Marine Band’s connection with John Philip Sousa runs deep. Sousa first enlisted in the band as an apprentice musician at age 13 and stayed with the ensemble until the age of 20. After his discharge from the Marine Corps, Sousa remained in Washington for a time, conducting and playing the violin. He toured with several traveling theater orchestras and in 1876 he moved to Philadelphia where he worked as a composer, arranger, and proofreader for publishing houses. In 1880 he was appointed as Leader of the Marine Band and his influence on the band and its repertoire can still be seen today.

In April 2015, the Marine Band released Volume One of “The Complete Marches of John Philip Sousa.” The project, which is in addition to the Marine Band’s annual educational recording, will take approximately six years to complete and focuses on “The March King’s” most important contribution to the concert band repertoire. This is the Marine Band’s first comprehensive collection of Sousa’s marches since the release of “The Heritage of John Philip Sousa,” which was recorded under the baton of former Director Lt. Col. Jack T. Kline USMC, (ret.) from 1974-76 and released by Robert Hoe. Each volume of “The Complete Marches of John Philip Sousa” is available for free exclusively on the Marine Band website (www.marineband.marines.mil) and the band’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/usmarineband) and contains additional educational resources including full scores, editorial notes, and scrolling score videos.

In April 2016, the Marine Band released Volume Two, and as a gift to music educators, Lt. Col. Fettig has moved up the time line for Volume Three to correspond with the opening of the Midwest Clinic. On Dec. 12, the Marine Band will release 20 more marches, composed from 1892-98.

For each release, Lt. Col. Fettig and Music Production Chief Master Gunnery Sgt. Donald Patterson have used the earliest known editions for each march and worked to incorporate the traditional performance practices employed by the Marine Band. Sousa was known to alter the performance of his marches from the printed parts, such as adjusting articulations and dynamics, dropping out certain sections of the band for musical variety, and adding unwritten percussion accents for dramatic effect. These unique practices became a tradition in his bands, and the Marine Band has long endeavored to perform Sousa’s marches largely as he did, which will be a feature of the Marine Band’s clinic

The clinic on the marches of John Philip Sousa will focus not only on the Marine Band’s unique performance traditions of Sousa’s many miniature masterpieces, but also on the development of “The March King” as a composer of the musical form that made him world famous. Fettig will be joined by musicologist and author of “The Making of the March King” Dr. Patrick Warfield, who will illuminate Sousa’s development as composer through the performance of several of his marches, both those that made him a household name and some that are lesser-known. Many of the marches featured in this clinic will be drawn from those included on Volume Three of the Sousa project, including edited scores, parts, recordings, program notes, and videos. Attendees should bring digital devices to the clinic to download scores and follow along during the session.

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