ALEXANDRIA, Va. --
While much of the country will focus on football this Sunday evening, the Marine Band has put together its own “super concert” for the afternoon, full of wind band favorites, popular marches, and the timeless orchestral transcriptions that hearken to the more than 200 year heritage of “The President’s Own.” Titled “Traditions,” Assistant Director Maj. Ryan J. Nowlin has truly programmed a feast for the musical senses for the Marine Band’s concert at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 2 at Northern Virginia Community College’s Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center in Alexandria. The performance will feature works by such renowned composers as John Philip Sousa, Antonín Dvořák, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and is anchored by two of the most important works composed for band: Percy Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy and Gustav Holst’s First Suite in E-flat. The concert is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. Free parking is available in the garage adjacent to the Arts Center.
“This concert is a chance to hear some of the pillars of the band canon in one place – music that has gone on to inspire generations of wind band performers and composers,” Nowlin said. “Programmed in a classic Marine Band and Sousa format, the concert truly has something for everyone to enjoy.”
In typical Marine Band fashion, the concert will begin with the Sousa march “Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.” The work is one of Sousa’s more unique marches, as it begins in a minor key and utilizes a Turkish crescent instrument (a pole hung with jingling bells). The work hearkens to and pays homage to Sousa’s Masonic ties and his membership in the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine in Washington, D.C.
Following in the Sousa concert programming style, the band will perform Dvořák’s very popular Carnival Overture, Opus 92, transcribed for band by legendary Sousa Band cornetist Herbert L. Clarke. Clarke’s transcription retains the energy and excitement of the original while translating the rich orchestral colors into the voice of the symphonic band.
Arthur Pryor, another Sousa Band virtuoso, composed some 300 works, many of which are enduring trombone solos such as the “Blue Bells of Scotland.” During Pryor’s time as an oft-featured trombone soloist, there were few substantial solo pieces written for the instrument which prompted Pryor to compose new works to showcase his talents. For this Sunday’s concert, Marine Band trombonist Staff Sgt. Russell Sharp will step into the soloist role and entertain the audience with one of the most technically-demanding and virtuosic works for trombone.
The concert’s first half will conclude with one of the pillars of the program, Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy. The work is considered the composer’s seminal work for wind band and was inspired by and based on folksongs collected in Lincolnshire, England. The composer called the work a “bunch of ‘musical wildflowers’ (hence the name ‘Lincolnshire Posy’).” Today, the piece remains one of the standards for symphonic band.
The other musical pillar of the concert is Holst’s Suite No. 1 in E-flat, Opus 28, No. 1. The three-movement work, Chaconne, Intermezzo, and March, highlight’s Holst’s skill in writing for woodwinds and has also become a wind band standard. Following Holst’s music, baritone vocalist Master Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Bennear will sing Mozart’s Aria, “Non più andrai” from The Marriage of Figaro. The popular work has been programmed dozens of times on Marine Band concerts and is always a crowd pleaser with its beautiful melody and lyrics.
The concert will close with Alexander Glazunov’s Finale from Symphony No. 5, Opus 55, transcribed by former Marine Band Director Jack T. Kline. An apt way to close the concert, the rhythmic themes of the Finale infuse the rondo form with a sense of epic heroism, providing an energetic and powerful conclusion to the work and the program.
In addition to the band concert, a gypsy jazz ensemble will perform in the lobby from 1:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., prior to the band’s performance.
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