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United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Marine Band’s Concerto Competition for High School Musicians Recital to Feature Five Finalists

By Master Sgt. Kristin duBois | United States Marine Band | February 20, 2018


The Marine Band will host its annual recital for the five finalists of the 2017-18 Concerto Competition for High School Musicians at 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24 at the John Philip Sousa Band Hall in Washington, D.C. The performance is free, no tickets are required, and will be streamed live at www.marineband.marines.mil and www.youtube.com/usmarineband.

The finalists will perform their concertos before a panel of judges consisting of Marine Band Director Col. Jason K. Fettig, Assistant Directors Maj. Michelle A. Rakers and Capt. Ryan J. Nowlin, and guest adjudicator professor Dennis Zeisler from Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Va. Zeisler has been on the faculty at ODU for more than 30 years, serving as Director of Bands, chairman of the music department, and clarinet and saxophone professor. He is also past-president of the American Bandmasters Association.

Ninety-four entries were whittled down to just five final contestants for this year’s competition. The winner will receive a $2,500 scholarship and the runner-up will receive a $500 scholarship, both from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.

Let’s meet the musicians:

Flute player Tessa Vermeulen is a senior at York Community High School in Elmhurst, Ill. She has placed first in the Walgreen’s 2016 National Concerto Competition senior open division and the Chicago Flute Club 2016 Student Competition senior division. She was also a finalist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Crain-Maling Foundation 2016 Young Artists Competition and she won the York Community High School 2016 Concerto Competition. In 2017 she received an honorable mention in the Walgreen’s National Concerto Competition senior open division and in 2018 she was the winner of the DePaul Youth Concerto Competition and the Lakeview Orchestra Concerto Competition.

Flute player Jennifer Wang is a senior at University of Chicago Laboratory High School in Illinois. She is the co-principal flute of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and plays chamber music in a flute, piano, and cello trio. In 2017 she won first place for the Society of American Musicians Competition senior division and was featured on WFMT radio’s “Introductions,” a live classical music program that showcases talented young musicians. She is the winner of the 2016 DePaul Youth Concerto Competition and appeared as a soloist with the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago in 2016. She placed first in the Chicago Flute Club Competition senior division in 2013 and was first runner-up in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition in 2016. In addition, Jennifer performed with a woodwind quintet which won third at the University of Michigan’s M-Prize chamber music competition in 2017 and was quarterfinalist at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Association in 2016.

Bassoon player Daniel McCarty is a senior at Lubbock High School in Texas. In 2017, he was the winner of the Youth Orchestras of Lubbock Concerto Competition. He was a 2015 and 2016 Texas 6A All-state 2nd alternate and in 2017 and 2018 was a 1st alternate. From 2015-17 he received 1st division solo ratings at the Texas State Solo and Ensemble Contest and in the summer of 2016 he was chosen to attend the Advanced Double Reed Institute of Texas.


Alto saxophone player Jordan Savage is a senior and National Merit semifinalist at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts High School Program in Winston-Salem. He is one of 12 finalists in the 2018 North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) High School Solo Competition and placed second in the 2017-18 North Carolina Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Competition. In 2016-17 he placed first in the North Carolina MTNA Competition and second in the Regional MTNA Competition. He also placed first in the 2015-16 Topeka Youth Talent Concerto Competition and the 2015-16 Heritage Philharmonic Concerto Competition, making his orchestral debut with the Topeka Symphony in 2016. In addition, he won second place and Audience Favorite at the 2015-16 Kansas City Symphony Young Artist Concerto Competition.

Tuba player Robert Black is a junior at Vernon Hills High School in Illinois. In 2017 he received an honorable mention for the Birch Creek Burton Concerto Competition Award, performed with the Illinois All-State Honors Orchestra, and was the winner of North Suburban Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition. From 2011-14 he received the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp Falcone Scholarship and he has performed in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras for the past 6 years.

The John Philip Sousa Band Hall is located at 7th & K Streets in southeast Washington, D.C. Free parking is available in the lot under the overpass. Patrons should arrive early to allow extra time for ID checks at the gate.

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