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"The President's Own"


"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
A Symphonic Epic: A Conversation with Johan de Meij

By Gunnery Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali | United States Marine Band | February 21, 2018


The Marine Band will present a free concert titled “A Symphonic Epic” at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 25 in Dekelboum Concert Hall at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland in College Park. This program features two very different but equally epic symphonies, including Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3. The 35-minute first movement is a miniature symphony in and of itself and will be performed in transcription on this concert along with the transformative Finale of the entire work.


The first half of the program features composer Johan de Meij’s dramatic and colorful Symphony No. 1 inspired by The Lord of the Rings books by J. R. R. Tolkien. The year 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of this substantial original symphony for band, and the Marine Band was among the first to perform it three decades ago. The composer will be on hand to lead this commemorative performance of his Symphony No. 1, and recently, Marine Band Director Col. Jason K. Fettig sat down with the Dutch composer to learn more about the piece.


View the complete interview


According to de Meij, he wanted to create a substantial work for wind orchestra and a friend gave him the idea of the Tolkien books. “With that in mind, I started reading the books … within four or five chapters I thought this is it!” Chapter four inspired de Meij and Movement 4 was the first to emerge, with its feelings of claustrophobia, rocks falling, and water dripping. “That was the chapter that inspired me right away.”


De Meij wrote the symphony over the period of several years and it was premièred in Brussels on March 15, 1988, by the “Groot Harmonieorkest van de Gidsen” under the baton of Norbert Nozy. In 1989, the Symphony was awarded a first prize in the Sudler International Wind Band Composition Competition in Chicago which resulted in the symphony’s first American performance by the Marine Band in 1990. When asked what he remembered about his experience with “The President’s Own,” De Meij said, “It was incredible. The precision of this group is absolutely amazing, and I’m so thrilled to work with them [on] this concert in College Park. I can’t wait.”


The performance will take place at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 25 at the Dekelboum Concert Hall at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland located at Stadium Drive and Route 192 in College Park, Maryland. The concert is free; no tickets are required and free parking is available in lots 1B and Z.


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