Washington, D.C. --
The 2019 Marine Band Chamber Music Series returns with its first concert of the season, including a program developed by co-principal flute Master Sgt. Elizabeth Plunk. Specially designed to highlight a wide variety of musical styles and instrumentation, the concert will take place at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 20, in the John Philip Sousa Band Hall at the Marine Barracks Annex in southeast Washington, D.C. The concert is free and no tickets are required.
Live stream: www.marineband.marines.mil and www.youtube.com/usmarineband
“When people attend a Marine Band chamber concert they get a closer look at our musicians and all the different instruments people in the band play,” Plunk said. “The chamber series is a great way to feature our strings, vocalists, and percussionists in addition to our wind players.”
The program features various small ensembles, as well as a marimba quartet, which will perform music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leonard Bernstein, Paul Durand, Django Reinhardt, Daniel Levitan, and Felix Mendelssohn.
A vocal, clarinet, piano trio will kick off the concert with Mozart’s “Parto! Ma tu ben mio” from La clemenza di Tito, K. 621. “This is unique because it was written as a trouser role, a role where the character of a young boy is sung by a female voice with the actress appearing in male clothing,” Plunk explained. “And it is also a great way to feature opera on the program.”
Following the Mozart selection Plunk included Jack Gale’s brass quintet arrangement of Bernstein’s Suite from West Side Story to honor the recent 100th anniversary of the renowned composer’s birth.
“Bernstein wrote almost no chamber music, focusing instead on music for the stage and his conducting career as music director for the New York Philharmonic,” Plunk noted. “But the selections from West Side Story are some of our most treasured and familiar American musical compositions. It’s nice to hear them in a different way which features our dynamic brass players.”
The first half of the concert concludes with two pieces from a genre known as “Gypsy Jazz;” Paul Durand’s “Je Suis Seule Ce Soir” and Django Reinhardt’s “Swing 28.” Both songs are characterized by their light, swinging rhythms and impressive string work from the musicians.
“I’ve heard the Gypsy Jazz set performed both at the White House for a state dinner honoring France and for young children visiting the Marine Band during their summer camp as well. All ages and audiences love this music,” Plunk said. “Gunnery Sgt. Tam Tran really brings the sound of this era, in particular the music of the Romani guitarist Django Reinhardt, to life. These pieces illustrate the diversity of musical genres in which the Marine Band musicians perform."
While the first half of the program features classical, impressionist, and 20th century composers, the second half will feature Romantic and modern compositions: Daniel Levitan’s Marimba Quartet and Felix Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in D, Opus 44, No. 1.
“I wanted to feature our percussionists on this program because it gives the audience a unique visual and musical experience,” said Plunk. “And the Mendelssohn is a cornerstone of the string quartet repertoire displaying his style and compositional techniques. I think it’s fun that the Quartet in D was the last of his Opus 44 quartets, but he made it No. 1 because it was his favorite. It requires really brilliant string playing!”
The Marine Barracks Annex is accessible by Metro via the Navy Yard or Eastern Market stations. Free parking is also available under the overpass on 7th Street, across from the Annex. Please allow extra time for ID checks at the gate.
Program and notes
Directions and parking