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United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
Final Summer Orchestra Concert Features Music of European Composers

By Gunnery Sgt. Brian Rust | United States Marine Band | August 21, 2017

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The Marine Chamber Orchestra will conclude its Summer Series, featuring the works of three European composers, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 26, at Northern Virginia Community College’s Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center in Alexandria. The concert is free and no tickets are required. Conducted by Assistant Director Maj. Michelle A. Rakers, the performance will include selections by two Scandinavian composers, Niels Gade and Edvard Grieg, as well as Czech composer Johann Baptist Georg Neruda’s Concerto in E-flat for Trumpet and Strings, featuring trumpet soloist Master Sgt. Michael Mergen.

“I am eager to perform Neruda’s Concerto for Trumpet,” Mergen said. “This beautiful concerto is considered standard repertoire for trumpet players, along with the concertos of Haydn and Hummel. I hope the audience enjoys hearing the trumpet play charming melodies in a lyrical, elegant style.”

Neruda’s Concerto was originally conceived for corno-da-caccia, a hunting horn, that is a valve-less member of the brass family with a slender bore size and coiled in modern fashion. In order for the instrument to sound properly, it was often played by trumpeters or high horn players and often resembled a similar sound to that of a modern-day trumpet performance.

Prior to the Trumpet Concerto, the orchestra will perform Danish composer Niels Gade’s Novellette No. 2, Opus 58. Gade is considered one of the most prominent Danish composers of the 19th century, but his promising career almost came to an end had it not been for fellow composer Felix Mendelssohn. After the Royal Danish Orchestra declined to perform Gade’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Opus 5, he reached out to Mendelssohn in Leipzig, Germany, who enthusiastically received the work and premiered it in Leipzig. A fruitful relationship was created and many of Gade’s compositions were premiered in Leipzig. Gade even followed in Mendelssohn’s footsteps serving as principal conductor of the Gewandhausorchester upon Mendelssohn’s death in 1847. His Novellette No. 2, composed in 1886, is a substantial and charming addition to the strings-only repertoire.

The orchestra concert will conclude with Grieg’s Suite for Strings, Opus 40, From Holberg’s Time. Grieg, who was actually a student of Gade’s, is considered one of the greatest artistic figures to come from the town of Bergen, Norway. However, in 1884, that was not necessarily the case as the town council was planning a grand bicentennial celebration for the most famous personality of the day, author and playwright Ludvig Holberg. Grieg was selected to compose a tribute for the occasion, but was less than thrilled at the prospect of composing a cantata, of which the town council had already decided. To make matters worse, the celebration was to take place in the bitter cold of January, and Grieg suffered from ill health and, somewhat sarcastically, predicted a foul scenario of cold, hail, and rain, in which he would freeze, but “that is one way to die for one’s country.” While Grieg completed the cantata and led the premiere, he later turned to another Holberg tribute that he was in fact excited about. The work, set for string orchestra, was a suite based upon popular dances of the Baroque form from Holberg’s time, hence the title. The charming work uses Norwegian folk-like melodies and not only pays homage to Holberg, but also the time and culture that influenced him.

Please note that there will be no pre-concert performance for this Marine Chamber Orchestra concert. The Schlesinger Center is located at 4915 East Campus Drive in Alexandria, Va. Free parking is available in the adjacent garage.

Complete program and notes

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