Oct. 15, 2014 --
When President John F. Kennedy said, “I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens,” he foretold the growth and success of the nation’s living memorial to him, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Not only has “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band performed there, but the musicians have also participated in the Millennium Stage initiative which presents a free concert at 6 p.m., 365 days a year. A saxophone quartet and brass quintet from the Marine Band will return to Millennium Stage on Friday, Oct. 17, with programs that will run the gamut from classical to jazz and Baroque to tango. The concert will also stream live at www.kennedy-center.org/programs/millennium.
“We are thrilled to be performing on the Millennium Stage for the first time as a quartet,” said assistant principal saxophone Gunnery Sgt. Steven Temme. “This quartet is a regular fixture in the Marine Band chamber music series, so we are excited to participate in this special program at the Kennedy Center.” The quartet is made up of Temme on soprano, Master Sgt. Miles Smith on alto, and Gunnery Sgts. David Jenkins on tenor and Otis Goodlett on baritone.
The program includes Richard Jackson’s edition of Caryl Florio’s Quarttete (Allegro de Concert); Marcel Mule’s transcription of Gabriel Pierné’s Chanson d’Autrefois; Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Andante du Quatuor No. 1; Claude Debussy’s “Le Petit Nègre;” Arthur Frackenpohl’s transcription of Tom Turpin’s “Pan-Am Rag” from Ragtime Suite; and Michael D. Nascimben’s arrangement of Rudy Wiedoeft’s “Saxophobia.”
“Florio’s Quartette is our favorite work,” Temme continued. “It is certainly one of the very earliest works for saxophone, written in 1879, and displays beautiful sonorities and a great blend of the instruments, which was just a taste of what is now a huge repertoire for this genre.” The program also gives a nod to the founder of the French Republican Garde Band’s Saxophone Quartet, Marcel Mule, with three of his transcriptions.
“I selected this program in conjunction with a larger celebration we will have later this fall to celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone. This is a neat opportunity to revisit what is now standard saxophone quartet repertoire and to recall what those first audiences would have heard performed for this newly developing instrument,” Temme said.
The brass quintet will follow with a sampling of repertoire for their own respective ensemble and will feature Gunnery Sgt. Brian Turnmire and Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Strong on trumpet, Gunnery Sgt. Douglas Quinzi on horn, Staff Sgt. Preston Hardage on trombone, and Gunnery Sgt. Paul Mergen on tuba.
“I chose Kevin McKee’s Escape for its driving rhythms and dark tonality,” Hardage explained. “Listeners should enjoy this opener for its ‘in your face’ dramatic content and technicality.” The program continues with a classic brass quintet staple, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Contrapunctus IX from The Art of Fugue, arranged by John Glasel.
“Its haunting C minor tonality and foreboding, long, sustained melody remind me of a giant organ that Bach himself would have played,” Hardage said.
After these two drastically different pieces, the quintet will perform Zack Smith’s Tango for Jam-Jam, a toe-tapping arrangement spotlighting a trumpet solo and four dynamic rhythms that bring the tango feel to the forefront. The program will close with two classics from the great American songbook: Sherwin Manning’s “A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square” and Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood,” and the jazz standard “I Found a New Baby” by Jack Palmer and Spencer Williams. “‘I Found a New Baby’ is a fun piece which features an extended improv solo section for trumpet. I hope the audience enjoys listening to this music as much as we do playing it,” Hardage said.
The performance is free, tickets are not required. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is located at 2700 F Street in northwest Washington, D.C., and the Millennium Stages are on either side of the Grand Foyer, outside of the Concert Hall and Eisenhower Theater.