Marine Barracks Annex Washington DC --
Almost every Friday, the Parris Island Marine Band can be found on the recruit depot parade deck, fulfilling its primary mission of providing musical support for graduations of new Marines. But with no graduation this week on the Island, the band has spent time collaborating and making music with members of ‘The President’s Own’ United States Marine Band of Washington, D.C., culminating with a joint concert titled “Invictus.”
Conducted by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Katherine Genovese and two enlisted conductors, the concert will feature marches by John Philip Sousa and legendary film composer John Williams as well as compositions by such composers as Percy Grainger and Frank Ticheli. The concert is free and open to the public and will take place at 7 p.m., Friday, March 22, at Battery Creek High School located at 1 Blue Dolphin in Beaufort, S.C. Seating is general admission and first-come, first-served; no tickets are required.
Throughout the week, the Marine musicians have discussed fundamentals of music and worked together in lessons, small ensembles, and full band rehearsals. The flute section compared notes on air support and tone, the clarinets spent some time focusing on developing a good section sound, and the French horn section discussed good habits to play well for a long career. In the saxophone section, the musicians talked about reed preparation and the reed lifespan as well as pitch issues, sound production, intonation, and blending as a section.
“I wanted to encourage a collaboration between two groups that don’t normally play together,” Chief Warrant Officer 2 Genovese said. “The musicians of ‘The President’s Own’ are fantastic so I wanted to give the musicians in our band—who are on the younger side of their musicianship—the opportunity to sit next to players that have inspired them.”
The band officer has a formula for selecting programs, and for this special collaboration she programmed a concert that will appeal to the audience while at the same time be fun and challenging for the musicians.
“I usually try to select a fanfare for brass ensemble then I go through some marches I’m interested in playing and try to pick out different styles,” she explained. For this program in particular, I programmed a British march and Sousa marches and works that the members of ‘The President’s Own’ would be able to dig into with my musicians. So instead of talking generically about march style, they have specific pieces on the concert to work on that directs practical application.”
Marches on the program will include Sousa’s “Pathfinder of Panama” and “Manhattan Beach,” Williams’ “March from 1941,” and the concert namesake “Invictus”—upbeat ‘circusy’-sounding march by Karl L. King, composed for the bandmaster of the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus.
“I pick something that I like to call a ‘chestnut’—a grand, standard work that not all of my musicians have played, especially if they’ve just come out of high school,” she said. “Something that grows their library of the great works of wind ensemble. I also try to program some [Percy] Grainger on every concert to try to build their ears for listening to Grainger’s sound, in the hopes that somewhere down the road we can perform his larger works like Colonial Song or Lincolnshire Posy.”
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Genovese also programs new repertoire on her concerts in an effort to represent the modern composer and those making new music for the wind ensemble genre. One of the new pieces on the concert, John Mackey’s “Foundry,” will highlight the percussion section with percussionists playing—according to the composer—“everything from traditional instruments like tom-toms and bass drum to ‘found’ instruments like ‘4 piles of metal,’ a ‘clang,’ and ‘4 wooden objects.’” Nine Marine musicians will perform on cymbals, marimba, timpani, vibraphone, tom-toms, xylophone, slapstick, and clang. As for the ‘4 piles of metal and 4 wooden objects,’ percussion section leader Staff Sgt. Chad Ranton said, “we’re using temple blocks with homemade hammers—drum sticks with steel on the ends—and random pieces of metal along with mixing bowls I ordered online.”
In addition, Enlisted Conductor Gunnery Sgt. Anna Hendrickson will conduct Frank Ticheli’s Simple Gifts, Mvt. III, “Here Take This Lovely Flower” and Mvt. IV, “Simple Gifts.” Enlisted Conductor Gunnery Sgt. Kristine Shaw will conduct Gordon Jacob’s An Original Suite, a work she has loved and studied for several years.
The concert will conclude with a salute to veterans as the ensemble performs the military service songs and Sousa’s immortal march, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
“This week has been very motivating; I’m inspired by these Marines,” U.S. Marine Band trumpet player Master Sgt. Michael Mergen said. “I’ve been impressed by the Parris Island Marine Band and the welcoming environment they’ve provided. This joint concert will be the pinnacle of a musically rewarding week.”
Learn more about the Parris Island Marine Band
Join the Parris Island Marine Band and members of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band for “Invictus” at 7 p.m., Friday, March 22, at Battery Creek High School located at 1 Blue Dolphin Lane, Beaufort, S.C. The concert is free, no tickets are required. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.