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"The President's Own"


"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Sinatra, Sousa, and Bernstein, Oh My!

By Master Sgt. Kristin duBois | United States Marine Band | July 10, 2017


The Marine Band’s summer concert series continues this week with back to back performances at 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 12 and 8 p.m., Thursday, July 13 at the West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Conducted by Assistant Director Maj. Michelle A. Rakers, the program is a perfect blend of what patrons might hear on a country bandstand in America’s heartland: George Whitefield Chadwick’s “Jubilee” from Symphonic Sketches; Sir Dean Goffin’s cornet solo “Victorious;” Ryan George’s Firefly; Leonard Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from On the Town; Richard Wagner’s “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral” from Lohengrin; Ol’ Blue Eyes: The Hits of Frank Sinatra medley; and John Philip Sousa’s march “The Belle of Chicago.”


The two soloists featured on these concerts include cornet player Gunnery Sgt. Brad Weil and baritone vocalist and concert moderator Master Sgt. Kevin Bennear. Weil joined “The President’s Own” in November 2004, a year after earning a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Indiana University in Bloomington. Prior to joining the Marine Band he performed with the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra in Kentucky and the Fort Wayne Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, Terre Haute Symphony, and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, all in Indiana. In 2014, Weil performed Kenny Baker’s “Virtuosity” as a featured soloist on the national concert tour, but this is his first time tackling Goffin’s “Victorious.” He was inspired to perform it after having heard that Tom Hooten, former Marine Band trumpet player and current principal trumpet in the Los Angeles Philharmonic, had performed it on the band’s 2003 national concert tour. “Once I heard him play it I knew I wanted to perform it at some point,” he said. The theme and variation of the cornet solo is derived from the hymn “Faith is the Victory” by Ira D. Sankey. “I love how virtuosic the solo is,” Weil explained. “It’s quite technical but my favorite part is the slow, passionate section in the middle. It portrays much despair.” Faith rises from the despair, however, and the solo concludes with a flurry of virtuosic fireworks that will leave the audience wondering when Weil will come up for air!

The brassy pyrotechnics of Weil are a brilliant contrast to Bennear’s rendition of Frank Sinatra’s warm, bel canto style of singing. Among the selections heard in this arrangement for vocalist and band is “Come Fly with Me,” the title track from a 1958 album that spent 71 weeks on the Billboard charts, ultimately reaching number one. Also heard in this medley is “For Once in my Life,” “I’ve Got the World on a String,” and “All the Way.” Bennear joined “The President’s Own” in 2000, becoming the third featured vocal soloist since the position was established in 1955. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 1996 from West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown. In 1999, he earned a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Tennessee (UT) in Knoxville. Prior to joining the Marine Band he performed with the UT Opera Theater, WVU Opera Theater, Theatre West Virginia, and the Knoxville Opera Company, where he played the role of Sharpless in Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with noted soprano Stella Zimbalis of the Metropolitan Opera.


The Marine Band will perform at 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 12 and 8 p.m., Thursday, July 13 both at the West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol. The concerts are free but weather permitting. Concert cancellations will be announced by 6 p.m. at (202) 433-4011 and www.facebook.com/marineband.

Complete program and notes

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