Unit HomeNews
"The President's Own"


"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
A St. Patrick’s Day String Celebration

By Staff Sgt. Chase Baran | United States Marine Band | March 12, 2019


On Sunday, March 17, members of “The President’s Own” will continue the Chamber Music Series with a string-focused program, opening with pieces from some of history’s favorite Classical composers, followed by selections with Irish influence and ties. The program was coordinated by violist Staff Sgt. Sarah Hart, and will take place in John Philip Sousa Band Hall at the Marine Barracks Annex in southeast Washington, D.C. Be sure to join in person or via live stream for this St. Patrick’s Day treat!

The concert can be live streamed at: www.marineband.marines.mil and www.youtube.com/usmarineband.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s Violin Sonata in E, BWV 1016 likely originated during his tenure as Kapellmeister in the city of Cöthen from 1717 to 1723. It was a time when Bach benefited from the patronage of the German Prince Leopold, himself a musician and connoisseur of the arts. The Violin Sonata in E follows a standard structure of the day with four movements ordered slow–fast–slow–fast. In keeping with this pattern, the opening Adagio movement has slow moving harmonies that evoke a sense of improvisation, and the final Allegro brings the piece to a quicker, energetic end.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s String Quartet in F, K. 590 will follow, with two violins, a viola and cello. Rather than follow the tradition of the earliest string quartets in which the other instruments played mostly supportive roles to the first violin part, Mozart featured the cello prominently for this piece. In much the same manner that Prince Leopold’s interest in instrumental music led to a fruitful period of string music for Bach, King Friedrich Wilhelm II’s patronage also influenced Mozart’s string writing.

The second half of the concert will feature songs perfect for the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day:

Though composed in Texas, Mark O’Connor’s “Limerock” is a perfect example of how American fiddle tunes have close ties with the much older tradition of Irish fiddling. This short, upbeat song offers a challenge by moving through several different keys and employing sliding harmonics. During this piece, you might find yourself wanting to clap along or even get up to do a jig!

Like fiddling styles, composer Garth Knox has Irish roots. Born in Dublin and raised in Scotland, he cites his upbringing as giving him a comfort with traditional Celtic music, which he now fuses with his years of experience performing new music as the viola player of the Arditti Quartet and the Ensemble InterContemporain. In his piece “Geostationary,” Knox calls for very unique types of pizzicato by plucking with different fingers, on different places on the string, and in different directions. The resulting music sounds quite evocative, including several moments that he describes as “our four astronauts (being swept) through the same meteor shower where they are bombarded by high-energy microparticles scattering in every direction.”

The last selection is American violist and composer Kenji Bunch’s String Circle, of which he writes:

“String Circle refers to the continuum of history and tradition that string instruments offer us. Our country is particularly rich in a variety of approaches to string playing, so each of the work’s five movements offers tribute to a particular idiom of American music.”

The movements explore a range of different styles, including folk music, old-time Appalachian fiddling, gospel and funk.

The concert is free and no tickets are required. 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.

Complete Program

Live Stream

Directions and Parking

Unit News Search