MARINE BARRACKS WASHINGTON --
As “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band traversed the Great Plains and Midwest for its 2018 national tour, the buses clocked nearly 5,900 miles stopping at 29 concerts across 12 states. Had the band traveled as the crow flies, it could have left the White House and made it to the Great Pyramids of Egypt with almost 80 miles to spare!
Even when so much ground was covered, this year’s biggest milestone wasn’t reached until the last piece of equipment was unloaded at Marine Barracks Washington, at which point the 100th national tour was officially in the books.
While the number 100 holds its own grandeur, it’s looking back at what happened during this tour that adds to the band’s storied history.
Night after night, Americans filled local high school gyms and professional performance halls to see and hear the Marine Band perform. Many trekked from miles around to attend these concerts—one music lover even flew his own plane from Colorado to make it to a concert in Nebraska. No matter the city, it was a special opportunity to demonstrate that the Marine Band is the peoples’ own just as much as the President’s.
In many performances, Director Col. Jason K. Fettig sought to make a local connection with the audience through careful music selection:
- In Lincoln, Neb., the tour kicked off with John Philip Sousa’s “University of Nebraska March,” performed at the song’s namesake school.
- In Montana, the program included “Give Us This Day,” paying special tribute to its composer, David Maslanka, who passed away in 2017 after living for 27 years in the Big Sky State.
- Iowans were treated to an encore of “76 Trombones” written by native Meredith Willson.
- Marches from Ohioans Henry Fillmore and Karl King were special selections for concertgoers in the Buckeye State, as well as a stirring rendition of Doris Day’s “Ohio” performed by soloist mezzo-soprano Gunnery Sgt. Sara Sheffield.
In others, the local flair came in the form of some of our band’s talented individuals:
- For Illinois native and trumpet soloist Gunnery Sgt. Amy McCabe, it was a special privilege to perform the solo from James Stephenson’s “The Storyteller” on the stage of Illinois State University, where she played many times as a student. In Chicago, she also performed alongside a supporting trumpet part played by former Marine Band member and current Chicago Symphony Orchestra second trumpet, John Hagstrom.
- Assistant Director Capt. Ryan J. Nowlin, former educator and long-time member of the Ohio band community, was supported by many friends, students, and family members as he took the podium in his home state.
The band also made the most of its visits by working with students in local band programs. While 17 of this year’s concert venues were already at high schools and universities, the musicians also volunteered their time to conduct master classes and clinics for more than 4,000 students.
“These more personal moments of mentorship and connection with the next generation of musicians and music-lovers has added rich dimension to our mission to share the Marine Band with as many of our fellow citizens as possible,” Col. Fettig said.
And while the band maintained this level of localized connection throughout the national tour, it also stayed true to its roots by including the favorite patriotic selections that generation after generation have come to know and love.
Without fail, the audience sang along with hands over their hearts for “The Star Spangled Banner,” clapped and bobbed their heads with “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” and gave cheers as veterans proudly stood for their respective service’s song during the “Armed Forces Medley.” In many cases, it was difficult for even the toughest former servicemen and women to keep a dry eye.
Brought together in pride for their country, there were no North Dakotans and Minnesotans; no white-collar and blue-collar; no young or old. In 29 different audiences this year, there were only Americans enveloped by the unique freedom that music provides. One that lifts the spirits and eases the mind.
So with “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band’s 100th tour at its close, the Marine Band wishes to thank the sponsors for their kind efforts and their communities for welcoming the band in each and every town. Without you, it wouldn’t have been a success.
Until number 101: West Coast, we’re coming for you.