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April 23, 2023 Marine Band Concert - Flourishes and Meditations: Music of Pith and Passion

Photo by United States Marine Band

April 23 Band Concert – Flourishes and Meditations: Music of Pith and Passion

18 Apr 2023 | Staff Sgt. Chase Baran United States Marine Band

On Sunday, April 23, the Marine Band takes the stage for a performance of musical pith and passion, tapping into the evocative emotion expressed through works of ballet, opera, romanticized Spain and more. Also included on this concert is a solo performance by Kyle Cho, winner of the 2023 Concerto Competition for High School Musicians. The free concert, conducted by Col. Jason K. Fettig, begins at 2 p.m. at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Va.

Concertgoers will have their first opportunity to hear Jim Stephenson’s entire Wooden Dimes: Ballet for Wind Ensemble, in person. This concert suite for wind ensemble, released on the Marine Band’s latest recording album “Monuments,” was commissioned to capture the most essential musical moments of the composer’s original ballet score, preserving the arc of love, loss, and the price of success and fame.

The piece combines classical popular dances and styles of the 1920s, like the Charleston and ragtime, and also harkens back to earlier dance traditional forms, including colorful episodes inspired by gavottes and tarantellas. The emotional center of the score, however, lies in two pas de deux dances in a traditional classical ballet style, where Stephenson’s evocative score creates further distance from the ghosts of composers past that permeate the ballet.

The concert also takes on the not-so-subtle undertones of romanticized Spain:

Mezzo-Soprano Master Sgt. Sara Sheffield and harpist Master Gunnery Sgt. Karen Grimsey will be featured on “Habanera” from Carmen, Georges Bizet’s enduring opera spinning a tale of love and seduction in the south of Spain. In the opera’s original French, the piece opens “L'amour est un oiseau rebelle que nul ne peut apprivoiser…” or “Love is a rebellious bird that nothing can tame…”

Michael Gandolfi’s classical Spanish guitar-inspired Flourishes and Meditations on a Renaissance Theme, was commissioned by the Marine Band, and made the namesake piece on an album released by “The President’s Own” in 2011. It is a set of seven variations on an anonymous Renaissance melody that is simply titled Spagnoletta, derived from a popular melody titled Españoleta or “Little Spanish Tune.” As the composer describes, the beauty and elegance of the original tune resides in its simplicity.

The concert will even open with John Philip Sousa’s march “La Flor de Sevilla” originally composed for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition, which took place in Seville, the birthplace of the composer’s father. At Sousa’s request, a Spanish proverb was printed on the sheet music for the first publication of the march: “Quien no ha visto Sevilla no ha visto maravilla,” which translates to “He who has not seen Seville has not seen beauty.”

Zhou Tian’s fierce and colorful rhapsody Petals of Fire, inspired by American artist Cy Twombly’s 1989 painting of the same title, will interject a contemporary flair into the program early on. Listeners will also enjoy Florent Schmitt’s tone poem for symphonic band Dionysiaques, which will close the performance with a complete musical picture of Dionysus, Greek god of wine and ecstasy.

Also featured during this concert is guest oboist Kyle Cho, a high school sophomore from Potomac, Md. As winner of the 2023 Concerto Competition for High School Musicians, he won a $2,500 scholarship from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, as well as an opportunity to perform in concert with the Marine Band. Cho will perform his winning concerto, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Variations on a Romance by Glinka.

Program & Notes