Oct. 7, 2014 --
March of the Month: The Rifle Regiment, John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa wrote his march, “The Rifle Regiment” in 1886 as a follow up to “Sound Off” and the wildly popular “The Gladiator.” Although he is best known as an innovator of the march form, this particular work follows the more traditional formula practiced by an earlier generation of march composers that included D.W. Reeves and Claudio Grafulla. “The Rifle Regiment was a very successful extension of form for him with its twenty-bar introduction that was incorporated into the first strain. Both were repeated; one of the few times Sousa went back to bar one.”
Composed during his 6th year as Director of “The President’s Own,” Sousa dedicated this march to the officers and men of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as “The Old Guard.” Stationed at Fort Myer, Va., “The Old Guard” is the oldest active-duty unit in the Army, dating back to 1784, and serves as the Army’s official ceremonial unit and escort to the President. Its platoons include the guards who stand watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; the Caisson Platoon, which supports funerals at Arlington National Cemetery; the Fife and Drum Corps; and the Continental Color Guard. Sousa’s patriotism and love of country led him to write many marches that he dedicated to various military units to include “Semper Fidelis,” “Sabre and Spurs,” “Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company,” and “The Glory of the Yankee Navy.”
This performance of “The Rifle Regiment” was conducted by then-Director Col. Michael J. Colburn and recorded Jan. 7, 2007 at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts Concert Hall in Fairfax, Va.,
Featured Soloist: “Uniquely Trombone” by Sammy Nestico, featuring the trombone section
October’s Featured Soloist is more like Featured Section with former Marine Band arranger Sammy Nestico’s “Uniquely Trombone.” The featured section includes principal Gunnery Sgt. Samuel Barlow, assistant principal Master Gunnery Sgt. Charles Casey, and Gunnery Sgts. Timothy Dugan and Karl Johnson.
In April 2013 the Marine Band performed a homecoming concert dedicated to Nestico. Then-Historian Master Gunnery Sgt. Michael Ressler, USMC (ret.) interviewed him in anticipation of the concert and went through the program piece by piece. When they got to his original composition “Uniquely Trombone” Nestico exclaimed, “Oh, I didn’t like that! I didn’t like that at all!” He went on to admit that he was afraid he “overdid it,” trying to write something demanding that would challenge the trombone section he revered so much. “I’m a trombonist, myself. I played pretty nice but I didn’t have the technique that those trombones in the Marine Band had. They could play anything! I thought, ‘Boy, I’m going to write something really difficult that I couldn’t play’…. I said I’d write it technically hard and I should write it like David Rose’s ‘Holiday for Strings’ with a ballad part in the middle and fast.”
One of the members of the original quartet, Master Gunnery Sgt. James Erdman, (USMC (ret.), remembers that Director Col. Albert Schoepper wanted a trombone quartet for the 1967 tour. After they researched the existing literature, Erdman suggested Nestico write something new for the occasion. The Marine Band premièred “Uniquely Trombone” on tour that year and featured Erdman, Dale Weaver, Gary Greenhoe, and William Richardson Jr. It was a frequently programmed selection in the late 1960s and 1970, but the band didn’t revisit it until 2003 and again in 2013.
This performance of “Uniquely Trombone” was conducted by then-Director Col. Michael J. Colburn and recorded April 14, 2013 at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria.