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United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
Summer Concerts on the Steps of the Capitol: June 12 & 13

By Staff Sgt. Chase Baran | United States Marine Band | June 11, 2019

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This week catch a free Marine Band performance in the heart of D.C.! Join us at 8 p.m., Wednesday, June 12, and Thursday, June 13, on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol to enjoy the best sights and sounds the city can offer.

Seated before a dramatic backdrop, the Marine Band will start off the program with one of John Philip Sousa’s more obscure marches, “The Volunteers.” Written by request in 1918, this march includes sounds characteristic of a shipyard and originally called for sirens, anvils, and a riveting machine. At the time of its première, many people were puzzled at the departure from Sousa’s usual march style, but he was merely fulfilling a request.

“The Volunteers” is part of The Complete Marches of John Philips Sousa, the latest recording project by the Marine Band. Download this march and many others here.

Next the band will play A. Carlos Gomes’ Overture to Il Guarany, a piece for which the composer is best remembered. Premièred in 1870, the opera and was performed regularly throughout Europe for several years at the La Scala Opera House in Milan. Giuseppe Verdi, upon hearing the opera in 1872, referred to it as the work of a “truly musical genius.”

Clarinetist Staff Sergeant Lewis Gilmore will then be featured as a soloist on Carl Maria von Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 2 in E-flat. The three-movement work includes an Allegro and a Romanze, in addition to the lively Polacca performed on this concert. In this final movement, Weber uses rather large leaps to embellish the clarinet melody, which is usually made up of flashy, sparkling rhythms.

The concert will continue with Alfred Reed’s The Hounds of Spring Overture, Russel Alexander’s march “Colossus of Columbia,” and then features mezzo-soprano Gunnery Sergeant Sara Sheffield with arrangements from Cole Porter Songbook.

Porter was notable among songwriters for writing both lyrics and music. His texts were full of clever double entendres, and his compositions reflected his thorough musical training. Stephen Bulla’s medley of Porter tunes includes “It’s De-Lovely,” originally sung by Ethel Merman and Bob Hope in the 1936 show Red, Hot and Blue, “In the Still of the Night” from the 1937 movie Rosalie, “Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye” from O Mistress Mine, and “You’re The Top” from the 1934 musical Anything Goes.

The 50-minute concert will conclude with Antonín Dvořák’s Five Dances from Slavonic Dances, Opus 46. Arranged by James Curnow, it consists of Dances 1, 2, 8, 4, and 3 (in that order) from Dvořák’s original work. These pieces display brilliantly suspenseful changes in both tempo and dynamics that exhibit the joyfulness of the Slavic soul. This transcription of Dvořák’s dances into the wind band’s voice captures all of the magic of the orchestral transcription, while highlighting sonorities unique to the symphonic band.

The concerts are free and tickets are not required. Inclement weather announcements will be made by 6 p.m. on the band’s Concert Information Line at (202) 433-4011. Limited street parking is available. For concerts at the Capitol, patrons may travel via Metro and take the red line to Union Station or the blue, orange, or silver lines to the Capitol South station.

Program and Notes


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