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"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
My End is My Beginning

By Staff Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali | | May 12, 2014


This Sunday at 2 p.m., the Marine Chamber Orchestra will perform a concert titled “My End is My Beginning,” conducted by James Ross, director of orchestral activity at the University of Maryland and associate director of the conducting program at The Juilliard School in New York. The program will take place at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center and will include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 34 in C, K. 338; Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Opus 24 (1947); and Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 16 in F, Opus 135. The concert is free and no tickets are required; parking is available for $6 in the adjacent garage.


Ross selected the three works for the program and poses the following question, “How different might life look from the point of view of a German composer at the end of his life, an Austrian composer in the middle of his, and an American child beginning his? What do Beethoven’s final compositional thoughts have to do with the thoughts of a boy lying on the grass in Knoxville, Tenn.? What do beauty and joy and caring mean in a world that we must one day leave behind? Do we go out smiling? Perhaps each in their way, Mozart, Beethoven, and Barber are addressing the same eternal question.” 

Based on a text by James Agee, Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, will feature guest soloist soprano Bridgette Gan, a bright young talent in the opera community. “For me, the Barber Knoxville is one of the … most iconic and moving American orchestral works,” Ross said, “And what a joy to work with the gifted soprano, Bridgette Gan, whom I first met at the University of Maryland a number of years back.” 

Ross has also programmed his own arrangement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 16 in F, Opus 135, offering patrons the unique opportunity to hear the string quartet played by a full orchestra. 

“I’m very much looking forward to the rich joy of creating these three works with the Marine Chamber Orchestra,” Ross said. “My relationship with the group has grown over the last few years.”  

Ross continued: “The peculiar challenges of performing the Beethoven last string quartet in an expanded orchestral setting can only be faced in an environment of sensitivity and virtuosity. I view my job as not specifically to direct this great music, but to share its shaping with the ensemble’s intrinsic musicianship.” 

In addition to the Barber and Beethoven works, the orchestra will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 34 in C, K. 338. “The Mozart symphony is less well-known than some of its later counterparts,” said Ross. “But it embodies a singularly live-loving verve and feels to me like the right kind of music for springtime and ‘lying on the grass.’” 

Complete program and notes

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