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"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Final Summer Concerts Pay Tribute to John Glenn and Women Marines

By Gunnery Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali | United States Marine Band | August 25, 2018


The Marine Band will conclude its summer concert season with concerts honoring Col. John Glenn and 100 years of women Marines. Conducted by Marine Band Director Col. Jason K. Fettig, this program includes favorites from the concert band repertoire, with connections that center around a new, original composition by Assistant Director Capt. Ryan Nowlin: God Speed, John Glenn, which pays tribute to the American hero who was a Marine fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, first American to orbit the Earth, and a United States senator for 24 years.

“Through all of his professional accomplishments, Glenn’s family and his wife, Annie, remained his focus,” Nowlin said. “Annie Castor was an accomplished musician, and Glenn was on his way to attend her organ recital when he heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor, ultimately leading him to join the Marine Corps and beginning his outstanding life of service. At the recital, Castor performed music from Jean Sibelius’s Finlandia. The imbedded hymn ‘Be Still My Soul’ made a profound impression on Glenn as he thought about the sacrifices he was about to make. Godspeed, John Glenn, uses the hymn ‘Be Still My Soul’ to act as the primary melodic material through various treatments and climaxes in a quote of the hymn.”

With that in mind, Fettig programmed Finlandia to highlight the connection between Nowlin’s treatment of the hymn and its original treatment in the landmark orchestral piece by Sibelius.

“I have great musical memories from my upbringing and my education as an up-and-coming musician, and the first time I ever played Finlandia was in my high school all-state orchestra,” Fettig said. “I did not know the piece before that, so being introduced to the music of Jean Sibelius back then and in that way has really stuck with me for my entire career. I have since become a huge fan of Sibelius’s music and this piece in particular is what started it all.”

While Fettig has programmed new music for this week’s concerts at the Capitol, the concerts will also include Louis Saverino’s “March of the Women Marines;” Andreas Makris’s Aegean Festival Overture, originally scored for orchestra in 1967; and Eugène Bozza’s beautifully famous En Forêt, featuring principal horn Master Sgt. Hilary Harding.

“Since Hilary was very recently appointed our principal horn, this was the perfect time to program the Bozza and introduce her to our patrons who have not heard her perform before,” Fettig said. “We have also been celebrating the 100th anniversary of women in the Marine Corps and the 1918 enlistment of Opha Mae Johnson, so it is the perfect time to play Saverino’s ‘March of the Marines’ to highlight that landmark occasion.”

Another new selection on the program is Selections from Wonderful Town, by the great American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. As the year 2018 marks the 100th year of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, the Marine Band continues to highlight Bernstein’s talent and legacy as both a composer and conductor and influential figure in American music.

“This piece is yet another in the line of many of Bernstein’s works that we have included throughout our entire year of concerts,” Fettig said. “This also happens to be a newly-arranged set of songs from his musical Wonderful Town which we will perform on our concert tour this fall in October throughout the Midwest. So this is a chance for our local audience to get a sneak peak of this medley of delightful songs before we take it out on the road.”

He continued, “When I program a concert it comes from a number of different places. One of the places it comes from is just an excitement to share new music and things we haven’t done before. That is certainly the case with Nowlin’s new piece and with the arrangement of these songs by Leonard Bernstein.”


The concerts will take place at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 1, and Thursday, Aug. 2, on the west terrace of the U.S. Capitol. The concerts are free; no tickets are required. Inclement weather cancellations are made by 6 p.m. the evening of the concert at facebook.com/marineband and (202) 433-4011.


Complete program and notes



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