Washington, D.C. --
This week’s Marine Band concert, aptly titled “Song and Dance” will highlight music from ballets to the golden age of band music. Conducted by Assistant Director Capt. Bryan P. Sherlock, the program includes Robert Russell Bennett’s Suite of Old American Dances; Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Lento assai: Allegro vivace from Symphonic Dances; Aaron Copland’s Old American Songs, Set One; and John Corigliano’s Gazebo Dances. The program will also feature this year’s winner of the Marine Band’s Concerto Competition for High School Musicians, euphonium player Peyton Sills who will perform Rolf Wilhelm’s Concertino for Euphonium.
Sills is a senior at Madison Central High School in Madison, Miss. He has been a member of the Mississippi Lions All-State Band in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 and in 2018 he was selected as an alternate for the Leonard Falcone Festival in the student division. In addition, Sills received the most outstanding musician award from performing with the Mississippi Bandmasters Association All-State Concert Band.
Although this was his first time participating in the Marine Band’s Concerto Competition, he had heard about it throughout the years from Marine Band flyers and from the live streams of previous competitions on the Marine Band’s YouTube channel. “This competition has been on my bucket list for quite some time,” Sills said. “Some really fine players have participated in this competition previously, so it is quite an honor to have been able to participate.”
Given the choice between Yasuhide Ito’s Fantasy Variations for Euphonium and Band and Rolf Wilhelm’s Concertino for Euphonium and Band, Sills chose the latter. “I felt that the Wilhem Concertino was the best choice for me given that it had many lyrical passages and many expressive opportunities in it. All in all, it stuck out to me because of Wilhelm’s very melodious writing,” he said. For the final round of the competition on Feb. 16, he left no stone unturned in his practice. “I prepared quite tediously by making sure that I was bringing out everything the piece asked for like clean phrases and clear articulations in which Wilhelm was very meticulous in his writing.”
The day before the final round, Sills had the opportunity to receive coaching from the Marine Band’s principal euphonium Master Gunnery Sgt. Mark Jenkins. “Working with Mark was definitely one of the highlights on my trip to D.C.,” he said. “Mark made great comments about my playing that I will definitely hold on to. Not just on the Concertino, but throughout my general playing. It was a great learning experience to have some time with him.”
“I really enjoyed meeting Peyton at the coaching session,” Jenkins said. “I was immediately impressed with how mature his musical ideas and interpretation were for a student his age. He was impeccably prepared for this competition and had a quiet confidence about him that really came through in his performance. I’m thrilled that Peyton won the Marine Band Concerto Competition. He definitely earned it!”
What was it like to win? “Winning the competition was one of the highlights of my high school music career,” Sills said. “However, it was an honor to have been selected as a finalist and I would have felt the same way whether or not I would have won.” As for the $2,500 scholarship, he plans on “using this money for my future education: college, tuba and euphonium conferences.”
Not one to rest on his laurels and ever the perfectionist, Sills continued to hone his solo in the weeks leading up to performing with the Marine Band. “I will be touching up a few things prior to my performance on March 31,” he said. “I hope to get some things better than they were in my recital performance on Feb. 16.”
But after Sunday’s performance, the Marine Band may not have seen the last of Sills. “I plan on attending the University of Southern Mississippi this coming fall. From there I will go into the course of majoring in music education and euphonium performance. Ultimately, I would like to see myself as a member of an elite military band in my long-term goals and plans.”
The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall at Northern Virginia Community College is located at 4915 East Campus Drive in Alexandria. The concert is free, no tickets are required, and free parking is available in the adjacent garage.
Program and notes
Directions and parking
Learn more about the Concerto Competition