MARINE BARRACKS WASHINGTON, D.C. --
For those who won’t be able to catch the Marine Band on its 2017 National Concert Tour to the Northeastern states in October, the band’s final summer concerts in Washington, D.C., will offer a special preview of two of the soloists. Flutist Staff Sgt. Heather Zenobia will perform Paul Taffanel’s Fantasie on Der Freischütz and baritone vocalist Master Sgt. Kevin Bennear will perform a set of Irish Songs including “When Irish Eyes are Smiling,” “The Little Beggarman,” “Rocky Road to Dublin,” “The Minstrel Boy,” “Morrison’s Jig,” and “The Wearing of the Green” all arranged by retired Marine Band chief arranger Master Sgt. Stephen Bulla. The performances will take place at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 30 and Thursday, Aug. 31 both on the West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol Building. The concerts will also feature John Philip Sousa’s march, “Imperial Edward,” Charles Ives’ Finale from Symphony No. 2, Giancarlo Castro d’Addona’s Grand Fanfare and more.
Although Zenobia has performed solos with both the Marine Band and Marine Chamber Orchestra and has toured many times with the band, this year’s tour will be her first as a tour soloist. When Marine Band Director Col. Jason Fettig asked her to be a soloist she knew not just any flute solo would do. “I knew I’d need to find something relatively short and technically brilliant, with some singing, tuneful moments,” she said. “I took to YouTube for my search and found the Taffanel [Fantasie on Der Freischütz] to be a good fit. It’s just over 10 minutes long, a technical showstopper, with some really beautiful melodies. I’ve really enjoyed learning and working on it.”
The Fantasie is based on an opera by German composer Carl Maria von Weber. Der Freischutz is a story full of magic, love, and longing which tells of a Marksman who, blinded by love and ambition, essentially makes a deal with the devil to obtain magical bullets that will win him a marksmanship competition and the hand of his bride.
“You can imagine while listening that the flutist here is playing several operatic roles—the hero, the devil, and the prayerful bride-to-be, while also trying to represent the feelings of each of the characters throughout the story,” Zenobia said. “I love the opening of this piece, in particular. It portrays an intensely dramatic and supernatural scene of the opera where the hero, Max, goes to the wolf’s glen at midnight to have the magical bullets cast that will win the competition for him. The flutist gets to perform something of an operatic vocal recitative, offset by brilliant cascading passages. It’s powerful and passionate, and so much fun to play.”
While Zenobia enjoys playing the opening of the Fantasie, she recommends patrons listen for the quiet, prayerful, yearning hymn sung by Agathe as she waits for her love to return from his competition. “It’s a huge shift and contrast from the previous sections and it’s really a special moment,” she said.
The Marine Band will perform at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 30 and Thursday, Aug. 31 on 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.
Program and notes