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"The President's Own"


"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Chamber Series to Include Reed Quintet, Horn Quartet, Strings

By U.S. Marine Band | United States Marine Band | February 5, 2020


The 2020 Chamber Music Series will continue at 2 p.m., this Sunday, Feb. 9, with several performing groups to include a reed quintet, horn quartet, and woodwind sextet with euphonium. The concert, coordinated by clarinetist Staff Sgt. Brigette Knox, will take place in John Philip Sousa Band Hall at the Marine Barracks Annex in southeast Washington, D.C., and also stream live YouTube. Knox offered the following on the program: 

As a musician in “The President’s Own,” I enjoy the heightened musicality and interpersonal atmosphere of chamber music. The chamber music stage allows performers to experiment with new music and instrumentation, stretch one’s personal playing abilities and share a love for music with wonderful colleagues. For this chamber concert, I wanted to feature more unusual and colorful instrument groups, and a unique way of using a traditional instrument grouping. For example, a string duo will open the concert with music by Gioachino Rossini. While the music of Rossini is familiar and string ensembles are regularly featured on chamber concerts, I was intrigued by this piece for cello and bass duo. I find the music charming and traditional while allowing the audience to be more “up close” to the lovely tonal and emotive sounds of an instrument pair that we don’t often hear outside of the symphony orchestra.  

This duet is followed by a sextet composed of a standard woodwind quintet with an unusual, but jolly, sixth member—euphonium. Thom Ritter George was one of the first composers to significantly contribute to the euphonium chamber music repertoire. George’s Sextet for Woodwind Quintet and Euphonium is a typical three movement work, made unique by interweaving melodies and mixing timbres amongst the wind quintet and its mellow, low-brass neighbor.  

Rounding out the first half of this concert is another duet: an electric piano and percussion feature. Captivating both aurally and visually, John Pasthas’ Matre’s Dance really leans into the percussive side of the piano and requires the musicians to keep up the intensity while responding to constant rhythmic changes. 

The horn quartet on this concert may be familiar to listeners, but, the piece our quartet opens the second half with is one of a kind. Walter Perkins wrote Concerto for Four Horns for the famous American Horn Quartet after collaborating with the group on previous well-received musical compositions. Perkins used the members as inspiration, featuring each horn player in a solo movement containing many mixed meters, tonal landscapes and rhythmic complexities.  

The final piece on the program is an ensemble also influenced by the wind quintet. Marc Mellits’ Splinter highlights the reed quintet—the flute and horn from the traditional wind quintet are replaced by a saxophone and bass clarinet. A beautiful blend is created with ease by this ensemble, providing a palate of rich sonorities that lend itself to Mellits’ minimalist style. Each of the eight movements is a sonic representation of a different tree, really capturing the imagination of the audience as they listen. 

The Chamber Music Series concert is free and no tickets are required. 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. 

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