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"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
Summer Concerts Conclude this Week at the U.S. Capitol

By Gunnery Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali | United States Marine Band | August 26, 2019


The Marine Band will conclude its outdoor summer concerts this week with two performances on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol. Conducted by Colonel Jason K. Fettig, the concerts will take place at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 28 and Thursday, Aug. 29. Both performances are free and no tickets are required.

The concerts begin with a nod to a national pastime. In American composer Carolyn Bremer’s Early Light, the audience can almost sing along with “Oh say can you see” and “from the rockets’ red glare” as Bremer’s musical material was derived from “The Star-Spangled Banner.” According to the score notes: “Bremer, a passionate baseball fan since childhood, drew upon her feelings of happy anticipation at hearing the anthem played before ball games when writing her piece. The slapstick heard near the end echoes the crack of the bat on a long home run.”

Following the American work, flute soloist Master Sgt. Elisabeth Plunk will perform Jacques Ibert’s Allegro scherzando from Flute Concerto. “The French composer began working on the piece in 1932 when it was the height of culture in Paris between WWI and WWII,” Plunk explained. “The music illustrates that kind of urban energy before the threat of war loomed again. The 1920s and 1930s were a period of great repertoire expansion for the flute, and this concerto is still considered one of the most difficult works for advanced flutists.”

“I wanted to perform this piece because I have always loved it as a listener,” she continued. “Put a flute into a pin ball machine and you get Ibert’s Flute Concerto. It’s charming and colorful and very Parisian, filled with running triplets, dare-devil technical phrases, and even a cadenza that is like an operatic mad scene. It's a technical challenge and incorporated some of the new musical techniques of the time for the flute like flutter tonguing and harmonics. Audiences enjoy seeing soloists push the boundaries of their instruments. Ibert’s Flute Concerto is fun and light and has jazzy French rhythms and definitely dazzles the listener.”

Following the dazzling flute solo, the band will perform a piece by another French composer Darius Milhaud. Milhaud related in his autobiography: “When a publisher asked me for an easy piece suitable for a school band, I composed my Suite française, utilizing folk tunes from Normandy, Brittany, Île-de-France, Alsace-Lorraine, and Provence in order to familiarize students with songs of the regions where the Allied armies were fighting for the liberation of my country.”

The concerts will also feature baritone vocalist Master Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Bennear singing a newly-arranged medley by Marine Band arranger Staff Sgt. Scott Ninmer. "We roll out the red carpet this week as I sing a set of Academy Award-Winning songs--songs that bring back memories and represent the best of Hollywood," Bennear said. The medley includes “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” and “Moon River,” among other favorites.

The band will conclude the performances with Finale from Mazeppa by German composer Franz Liszt, also known as the father of the symphonic poem. The sounds of human suffering and catastrophe will come alive in this symphonic poem along with sounds of horse’s hooves, fear, and triumph.

The concerts are free but are weather permitting and programming is subject to change. Inclement weather announcements will be made by 6 p.m. on the band’s Concert Information Line at (202) 433-4011 and on the Marine Band’s website and social media pages.

Complete program and notes

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