Washington, DC --
As the nation observes Presidents Day, the United States Marine Band, which has performed for the executive office since 1798, will take the stage for a special Gala Concert in North Bethesda, Md., featuring internationally-recognized guest artists and a transcription world première. This free concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 17, at the Music Center at Strathmore. Though all tickets have been distributed, unclaimed seats will be released to the standby line at 7:15 p.m. Non-ticketed individuals are encouraged to wait standby starting at 6:45 p.m.
“The President’s Own” will perform under the baton of JoAnn Falletta, a Grammy-Award winning conductor and one of America’s most successful contemporary classics musicians. Currently music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, she has led many of the finest orchestras around the globe during her long and distinguished career, and her prolific output of classical recordings has consistently garnered international praise.
“Maestra Falletta is one of our nation's most gifted and prolific conductors, and she brings a wealth of experience and unique musical perspectives to each ensemble with which she works.” Col Fettig said. “That work has been predominantly in the orchestral world, so I am especially excited for her to have the opportunity to collaborate in a different way with the musicians of the Marine Band. It is clear to me that she is as enthusiastic to make music with us as we are with her, and that mutual admiration promises to make for a meaningful - and hopefully an electric - experience for the performers and audience alike.”
For this special concert marking the debut collaboration between Maestra Falletta and the Marine Band, she has chosen a diverse collection of American works to celebrate Presidents Day. These pieces run the gamut from standard works of the symphonic band repertoire to exciting new music by living composers with whom she has collaborated.
One highlight includes the world première of a new transcription of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s popular blue cathedral by Marine Band Assistant Director Maj. Ryan J. Nowlin. As a regularly performed contemporary orchestral work with more than 600 performances worldwide, this adaptation offers a fresh take on this popular piece.
“It does sound different than the original orchestral version,” Higdon said, “but I think of it as its own piece, with its own characteristics and unique colors. It’s a pretty marvelous experience.”
This is not the first time the Marine Band has featured one of Higdon’s works – in 2015, her Percussion Concerto was included on the band’s album Elements.
“Working with the band is always a privilege and an honor. The skill and musicianship level is so excellent, that I think of this group as a national treasure,” Higdon said.
The concert will also feature world-class guest soloist Timothy McAllister on Kenneth Fuchs’ saxophone concerto Rush. Falletta has worked with McAllister before, recording Rush with the London Symphony Orchestra, on an album that earned her a 2018 Grammy for Best Classical Compendium.
Opera News hailed McAllister’s “Unusually pure and sweet tone on the cadenzas of Rush,” and said “Falletta shows a clear affinity throughout for Fuchs’ warm, spacious, neo-Romantic idiom.”
Other works on the Gala Concert include Marine Band staples like Sousa marches “George Washington Bicentennial” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” as well as works by John Williams, Jack Gallagher, William Schuman and Roberto Sierra.
Directions and Parking
All tickets are valid until 7:15 p.m., at which point any remaining seats will be filled with patrons from the standby queue. Free parking is available in the Grosvenor/Strathmore Metro parking garage.