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"The President's Own"


"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
Marine String Duo: Streaming On A Screen Near You

By Staff Sgt. Charles Baran | United States Marine Band | March 31, 2020


On April 1, you would be foolish not to stream a live concert from the U.S. Marine Band!

Watch and listen from wherever you are as a string duo from “The President’s Own” tackles a wide variety of music, ranging from traditional and recognizable, to the new and downright groovy.

The ensemble features Master Gunnery Sergeants Peter Wilson (violin) and Aaron Clay (double bass), an impeccable pair which has been strung together in the Marine Band for 26 years.

“Master Gunnery Sgt. Clay and I joined the military in the same year (1990), but while I was putting on a Marine Band uniform, he was a musician with the U.S. Navy Band,” Wilson said. “After his first enlistment, Aaron auditioned for one of the two String Bass vacancies in the Marine Band at that time (1994) and was accepted. We became fast friends, in part, because we learned that we grew up not that far from each other in West Virginia.”

Not many arrangements exist for violin and double bass, but that isn’t an issue for this pair—on this concert, most of the pieces are arranged or written by one of the musicians.

The first Wilson-Clay arrangement debuted in 1997 for a performance at a local Virginia high school. Originally for violin and piano, Wilson reworked Henri Vieuxtemps’ Souvenir d’Amérique for violin and bass.

“We immediately began writing new arrangements, as there is very little repertoire conceived for the violin and double bass,” Wilson said. “Naturally, we started by playing existing works for violin and cello, but soon we began writing original works as well. After about six months of playing transcriptions of mostly classical music, Aaron decided to write our first jazz chart.”

The Gershwin selections on the program were results of that shift to jazz.

“Aaron has an extensive jazz background and even started his musical training on electric bass,” Wilson said. “We soon realized that we could explore all kinds of musical genres with our duo, and more arrangements soon followed that covered not only classical and jazz, but folk, funk, pop, rock, film, and world music.”

That very diversity is what viewers and listeners can expect to hear during the April 1 concert. The pair likes to take audiences on a musical journey through many different musical styles with the idea of expanding the listener’s traditional expectations of the violin and bass.

The concert opens with a baroque piece that presents the instruments in their traditional roles; violin playing melody while the double bass plays the bass line or continuo part. From there, they explore jazz, classical, ragtime, folk music and spirituals, funk, and original modern compositions. To close the performance, the duo will play Souvenir d’Amérique, the very piece which gave the pair their start.

“We hope there will be something for everyone,” Wilson said, “We will have fun presenting our music as well through music humor and anecdotes.”

Join the live stream at www.youtube.com/usmarineband, and watch the concert at home or on the go with any of your connected devices.

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