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"The President's Own"


"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
Meet the Tour Soloists

By Gunnery Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali | United States Marine Band | October 1, 2019


Baritone vocalist and concert moderator Master Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Bennear joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in January 2000, becoming the third featured vocal soloist since the position was established in 1955. He will solo on every single Marine Band tour concert; therefore he has collaborated with Col. Jason K. Fettig to select three different works to perform on the road. Read Bennear’s Biography


Selections from South Pacific was arranged by Marine Band arranger Staff Sgt. Scott Ninmer and includes Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s “This Nearly was Mine,” “Nothing Like a Dame,” and “Some Enchanted Evening.”


South Pacific is a classic Broadway musical—one of the greatest musicals in history,” Bennear said, “and as we continue to commemorate the 75th anniversary of World War II and D-Day, this piece seemed appropriate to perform for our audiences.”


“It is also amazingly fulfilling to sing as a baritone,” he continued. “I sang it many, many times through school and have really loved singing it in performance with the Marine Band. It’s one of the great classical musical theater songs through which you use so much of the baritone technique that makes the baritone voice special, so I can’t wait for our tour audiences to hear it.”


Casey at the Bat by Randol Alan Bass was commissioned by the Dallas Symphony and premièred in April 2001 by the symphony with television personality Pat Sajak narrating. Bass then transcribed the work for “The President’s Own” in 2001. A huge baseball fan, Bennear explained: “The timing for this piece is perfect since we’ll be in baseball playoffs and it seemed like a fun narration for people to hear. And as a performer, the variety of going from singing solos to narrating Casey at the Bat makes it fresh and new every concert.”


Singing with the Stars: Academy Award-Winning Songs is a newly-arranged medley by Ninmer. The medley includes “When You Wish Upon a Star,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” and “Moon River,” among other favorites. A nod to Hollywood, Bennear hopes to sing these classic, timeless songs in a way that will bring back memories for concertgoers and evoke a sense of nostalgia.


This is not Bennear’s first tour to the West Coast. “It’s my third time on the West Coast: such a fun tour—I love the people, the weather, and the enthusiasm of the crowds, so I just know it’s going to be a great tour.”


Saxophonist Master Sgt. Steven Temme joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in August 2003. Temme will perform Dr. Frank Ticheli’s “Falcon Fantasy” from Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble in the following cities: Everett, Wash.; Bend, Ore.; Palo Cedro, Calif.; Sacramento, Calif.; Lafayette, Calif.; Porterville, Calif.; Long Beach, Calif.; Chula Vista, Calif.; Chandler, Ariz.; and Flagstaff, Ariz. Read Temme’s biography


Ticheli composed his Concerto for Alto Saxophone in 2014 when commissioned by a consortium of seventeen saxophonists and their affiliated ensembles, under the coordination of Clifford Leaman.


“I wound up finding this work on YouTube when researching solos a couple of years ago,” Temme said. “I was immediately drawn to the energy and angular rhythmic quirks, particularly in the first movement, which is what I’ll be playing on tour. I really love the energy to the piece; it’s a kind of controlled energy, though, with many patterns and repetitive sections, so it never settles, but there is also the clever way in which a very technical and moving line can still sound like a long overarching phrase. And like a falcon, you do hear diving and even get a sense of soaring.”


“I love the syncopated rhythms that he builds a theme around and there are a couple of really fun moments where it’s just the saxophones and solo sax playing in unison, syncopated rhythms that may hint at a jazz style, but it is also something completely its own,” Temme explained. “And it’s exciting from start to finish, with very technical licks even into the altissimo. The composer makes great use of interesting timbres from different sections of the band. There are several moments of buildup that feel like he takes us off a cliff with a final buildup at the end until the piece suddenly dissipates into the atmosphere.”


Temme has never performed this piece, so he is thrilled to have many opportunities to perform it on tour with the Marine Band. It will be even more special because he is from Arizona and will be performing the piece in his hometown area with family and friends in the audience. Temme attended high school in Scottsdale, Ariz., and spent summers in Flagstaff. Flagstaff is a special place for him; it was there he won his first solo competition as part of the Northern Arizona University Curry Summer Music Camp.


“The Ardrey Memorial Auditorium is very special to me,” Temme said. “I played on that stage in 8th grade and won my first solo competition there. My parents came and watched—they were so excited and so supportive. They encouraged me to go to camp and they continue to be huge supporters of my career to this day.”


Oboe/English hornist Gunnery Sergeant Tessa Vinson joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in August 2008. Vinson will perform Frigyes Hidas’ Allegro from Oboe Concerto, composed in 1953 and transcribed by Master Gunnery Sgt. Donald Patterson just this year, in the following cities: Seattle; Milwaukie, Ore.; Eugene, Ore.; Grass Valley, Calif.; Rohnert Park, Calif.; Salinas, Calif.; San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Los Angeles; and Imperial, Calif. Read Vinson’s biography


When searching for a solo for tour, Vinson brainstormed with Marine Band Chief Librarian Master Sgt. Kira Wharton. “She mentioned that Hidas had a Concerto with Orchestra, so I went home that night and listened closely to several recordings of it,” Vinson said. “Immediately upon the first listen I knew it would be absolutely perfect for our tour audiences. The opening string parts honestly sounded like a band to me!”


“I absolutely adore the catchy tune the oboe comes in with,” she continued. “It is happy, joyous and accessible for audiences. Music should make you feel something, and this piece most certainly does. The piece lies in a lovely range for the oboe. It moves seamlessly to the upper and lower registers, and it allows the oboe to show off on long lyrical passages as well as quirky character lines. There is a huge cadenza at the end of the work, and I always enjoy performing cadenzas because it’s my chance to truly tell my story. I’m hoping to make hearts flutter, smiles appear and maybe even a laugh or two.”


According to Vinson, the audience will enjoy the catchy melody that re-occurs throughout. “Most people never have the opportunity to see an oboe soloist live. My hope is to leave them knowing a little bit more about the unique sound, color palette and facility of the instrument.”


The West Coast tour was Vinson’s first tour when she joined the Marine Band, so it is very special to her. But it is also special because it is her home turf.


I’m beyond thrilled to be soloing for my hometown tour! I know that my parents will be following us around for at least a couple of concerts. Santa Monica High School, my alma mater, has one of the largest and most successful music programs around. I can’t wait to hear and see a sea of music students in the audience!”


Tuba player Staff Sergeant Simon Wildman joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in June 2013. Wildman will perform Paul Lavender’s transcription of John Williams’ Concerto for Tuba in the following cities: Ellensburg, Wash.; Corvallis, Ore.; Medford, Ore.; Reno, Nev.; Stockton, Calif.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Escondido, Calif.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Las Vegas. Read Wildman’s biography


John Williams composed the concerto as a centennial commission from the Boston Pops, and Wildman remembers buying the CD and sheet music and being amazed with how challenging it was. “I saw the contour and rhythms and could immediately tell that it was all over the range of the instrument. And really fast.”


According to the composer, “I really don’t know why I wrote it—just urge and instinct. I’ve always liked the tuba and even used to play it a little. … it’s such an agile instrument, like a huge cornet.”


Wildman said, “It’s hard to find a piece for tuba and orchestra that compliments both, but John Williams is so skilled at bringing out the colors of an orchestra, and this piece translated really well to a band transcription. I’ve always thought this concerto was like a long Superman étude. The writing really seems to suggest flying, action punches, and soul-searching at the fortress of solitude. You could never imagine that a tuba could play so fast and technical, but Mr. Williams imagined it and this piece showcases the tuba in that way. Everything that’s hard on tuba is in this piece. It’s the fastest I’ve ever had to move my fingers and tongue in coordination with my fingers. Stereotypically, people think the tuba is just the bass line and some just think of the Sousaphone when tuba is mentioned. So if someone has never really heard the tuba before, they’ll be amazed at the range and its expressive abilities.”


Wildman is looking forward to touring the West Coast. Why does he love tour? “I love that every night there could be one person whose life will be changed by hearing our concert.”


Read More about the 2019 Tour Programming and Locations

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