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United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Chamber Music Series Features Piano

By Gunnery Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali | United States Marine Band | May 10, 2019


The Marine Band Chamber Music Series will conclude its winter-spring performances this Sunday, May 19, at 2 p.m. in John Philip Sousa Band Hall at the Marine Barracks Annex in southeast Washington, D.C., and stream live on the Marine Band’s YouTube channel. The concert will include two works that feature concert coordinator Staff Sgt. Christopher Schmitt on piano: Johannes Brahms’ Piano Quartet No. 2 in A, Opus 26, and Antonín Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 in A, Opus 81. Schmitt offered the following on the program:

The Dvořák Quintet is the first chamber music piece I have ever played. When I was 13 years old, I traveled to Innsbrook, Mo., to take part in a small chamber music festival there. I first performed Brahms’ Second Piano Quartet at Music@Menlo, a program directed by David Finckel of the Emerson String Quartet and his wife, pianist Wu Han—also directors of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. So I have very fond memories of each of these pieces, mostly because of the great friends and memories I made while learning them during those formative years of my life.

The Dvořák Quintet embodies a childlike innocence and unique breed of emotional sincerity very different than that found in most Germanic works of the period; yet the intensity of the dramatic passages is no less captivating, intensified by the folk-inspired melodies and harmonic language. To me, the depth and profundity of Brahms’ Second Piano Quartet, its sheer substance, and the almost existential relevance of its melodies and harmonic structure, seem to comfort and begin to resolve my own sense of disquiet in this very complex and challenging world we all live in today.

Perhaps the most refreshing quality of the Marine Band chamber series is the variety in the programming; most concerts encompass several periods of classical music, and often include different styles and genres and instrumentation. In spite of my appreciation of this aesthetic, I decided to create a program consisting only of two large pieces that are of similar styles and instrumentation, that might embody variety in itself, at least in the context of the programming of the chamber series as a whole. I felt that it could be very effective to revisit the ‘roots’ of the chamber music repertoire and revisit the idea of a program that is simple and straightforward, but nonetheless exciting and meaningful.

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.

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