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United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Concerts Feature American Salute and Works by John Williams

By Gunnery Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali | United States Marine Band | August 1, 2017


This week the Marine Band’s summer concert series continues with an American salute and music by John Williams, one of the most popular and successful American composers of the modern age. Conducted by Assistant Director Maj. Michelle A. Rakers, the performances will take place at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 2 and 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 3 at the West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol.

The concert kicks off with Morton Gould’s “American Salute,” the composer’s setting of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” Written in 1942 after a government radio program producer requested a “salute to America,” Gould composed and scored the work in less than eight hours. According to the composer, he began at 6 p.m. the evening before it was due and concluded at 2 a.m., in time for the morning rehearsal and the evening radio broadcast.

The program continues with John Williams’ Flight to Neverland from American film director Steven Spielberg’s 1991 film Hook. According to the composer: For countless centuries mankind has dreamed of flying, which is why I think it could be argued that the greatest achievement of the twentieth century may have been the accomplishment of flight itself. Our fascination with flying and the freedom we associate with it may also be one of the principle reasons why the story of James Barrie’s play has been retold in every imaginable medium. My favorite moment has always been when Peter Pan and Tinkerbell rise above the rooftops of London and fly off to Neverland. In writing the music for Steven Spielberg’s film version of the story … I tried to create a clear singing melody that might combine some of the wonder of childhood with the energy and “lift” required for this famous flight.

The program also includes Williams’ Hymn to the Fallen from Spielberg’s 1998 film Saving Private Ryan. Spielberg salutes Williams as “the quintessential film composer,” adding that “John has transformed and uplifted every movie that [they’ve] made together.”

He also said: “With Saving Private Ryan, John Williams has written a memorial for all the soldiers who sacrificed themselves on the altar of freedom in the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944. Pay particular attention to the cue entitled Hymn to the Fallen, which never appears in the main text of the film, only at the end credit roll. It’s a piece of music and a testament to John Williams’ sensitivity and brilliance that, in my opinion, will stand the test of time and honor forever the fallen of this war and possibly all wars.”

In addition to “American Salute” and music by John Williams, the program will include Percy Grainger’s Children’s March, “Over the Hills and Far Away;” John Philip Sousa’s Mother Hubbard March; Joseph Horovitz’ Con brio from Clarinet Sonatina, featuring clarinet soloist Staff Sergeant Meaghan Kawaller; and Stephen Sondheim’s “Not While I’m Around” from Sweeney Todd and “You (I) Could Drive a Person Crazy” from Company, featuring mezzo-soprano Gunnery Sgt. Sara Sheffield. 

Kawaller performed the Sonatina 10 years ago as a senior at the University of Texas in Denton. “Playing this piece brings back good memories. I played it 10 years ago as a student, so it’s nice to come back to it as a professional musician and see it with fresh eyes,” she said. “It’s neat to see my original markings and my teacher’s markings which included some time signature reminders, accidentals, and even tips on my sound and control.”

“I’ve always loved this piece,” Kawaller continued. “It’s really fun and light-hearted, sort of jazzy and perfect for a summer concert.”

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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