Alexandria, Va. --
In honor of Black History Month, the United States Marine Band will perform the free concert “Our New Day Begun: A Tribute to Black History” at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 26, featuring a collection of both old and new works by Black composers. Conducted by Marine Band Director Col. Jason K. Fettig, the performance will take place at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center on the campus of Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria. No tickets are required.
“There is historic significance to several of the works in this collection of music wholly dedicated to the music and words of Black artists, including a march by the first African-American bandmaster in the United States Navy, and a new transcription of the piece that brought worldwide attention to the great British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor,” Fettig said. “This concert is also a showcase of music by living African-American composers, including Valerie Coleman, Kevin Day and Omar Thomas.”
The program will kick off with two older works: Alton Adams’ March, “The Governor’s Own,” inspired by Admiral Joseph Wallace Oman, naval governor of the Virgin Islands, and Coleridge-Taylor’s beautiful Ballade which is full of energy, passion, and warmth. The rest of the concert features newer works by living composers including Coleman’s Fanfare for Uncommon Times, a work she composed in 2021 in an effort to “create a piece that brings people together.”
Up and coming composer Kevin Day has emerged as one of the leading young voices in the world of composition and his Euphonium Concerto, performed by Gunnery Sgt. Hiram Diaz, really shows off his composing skills as the work is technically challenging for the soloist, but also very engaging with beautiful, soaring melodies. “There’s a lot going on but I feel this piece really showcases what the euphonium can do and I think it will be a real crowd pleaser,” Day said. “It’s a piece I love, and for an instrument I love to play.”
Diaz added: “I’m super excited because this is such a wonderful piece and it speaks to so many people.”
The centerpiece of the program is a new work by Erik Santos inspired by? the poetry of the legendary poet of the Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes. His prose captured not only the vibrancy, humor and spirituality of African-American culture during his time, but also the pain and struggle of systematic racism and oppression.
“We are thrilled to welcome to the stage the artist for whom this part was written, tenor Dr. Scott Piper, to give his inimitable performance of this stunning work,” Fettig said. “Along with Omar Thomas’ emotional piece Of Our New Day Begun which closes the program, the second half of the concert addresses the deep injustice that is woven throughout Black history—and also the inextinguishable hope that the march toward freedom, equality peace, and justice will prevail.”
Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center is located at 4915 East Campus Drive in Alexandria. Free parking is available in the adjacent garage.
Program & Notes