Photo Information

"The President's Own" United States Marine Band performs at Wolf Trap for the park's 1986 summer season opening ceremonies.

Photo by United States Marine Band

Back for 50 Years at Wolf Trap

21 Jun 2021 | Staff Sgt. Chase Baran United States Marine Band

After a year of shuttered public performances at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band returns to the Filene Center stage, heading-up the return of audiences to the beloved Washington-area venue.

A weekend of free concerts by the Marine Band will take place at 8 p.m., June 25-27. All tickets to attend these concerts have been distributed, but be sure to watch the concert live online at the or the links listed below.

Program Information

The band kicks off the series of performances on Friday, June 25, with Free Country, playing classic and modern hits and original songs with special guest vocalist Sara Niemietz of Postmodern Jukebox. WATCH

On Saturday, June 26, under the direction of guest conductor Fred Radke of the Harry James Orchestra, the Marine Big Band will play classic big band favorites such as George Gershwin’s “Strike Up the Band” and Billy Strayhorn’s “Take the ‘A’ Train.” WATCH

The third and final concert on Sunday, June 27, features “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band with an exciting lineup of music to include John Philip Sousa’s march “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” “America the Beautiful,” A Salute to the Armed Forces, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, and more! WATCH

These first public performances held after the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic come just in time to celebrate the park’s golden anniversary, and joins the list of times that the Marine Band’s music has kicked off new chapters in Wolf Trap’s continued national legacy.

On May 22, 1968, the Marine Band played at the ground-breaking ceremony at Wolf Trap Farm Park for what would become a centerpiece for the future National Park: the Filene Center. The band even premièred a piece especially for the event – the Wolf Trap Park Fanfare.

“When I think about the fact that ‘The President’s Own’ United States Marine Band has been there in artistic partnership with Wolf Trap since the very beginning, that’s an incredible thing to realize in our history,” said Col. Jason K. Fettig, director of the Marine Band.

While construction on the Filene Center was underway, the Marine Band returned in December 1969 for the inaugural Carols at Wolf Trap. Attendees enjoyed hot cider and sang along as the Marine Band and American University Singers performed a series of festive selections. This was the first iteration of what is now a popular local tradition: the Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-A-Long.

On July 1, 1971, the Marine Band played for the Filene Center’s grand opening ceremony - the 50th anniversary of which is recognized this year – and again on June 20, 1984 when the venue was reopened after being destroyed in a fire in 1982.

The open-air auditorium, bearing founder Catherine Filene Shouse’s family name, was then opened to audiences of up to 7,000 people, providing seats under the pavilion as well as the surrounding hillside. It’s in this space that several generations have gathered and enjoyed the performing arts – such as annual Marine Band concerts - in harmony with a natural setting.

Over the duration of Wolf Trap’s existence Marine Band performances have proven to be a popular annual tradition, drawing large crowds to the park for a free, public performance. In addition to holiday concerts, “The President’s Own” regularly performs a “Summer Blast Off!” during Memorial Day weekend – the first performance of the park’s summer season.

Though things are getting started a little later this year, a return to public performances has been much awaited.

“I know that I speak on behalf of all the musicians in the Marine Band that we can’t wait to get back to Wolf Trap to play for those audiences at this marvelous venue,” Col. Fettig said. “It’s going to feel so good to be able to get back there and to celebrate music with all of Wolf Trap’s patrons.”