Oct. 21, 2014 --
“The President’s Own” Fall Chamber Series has featured programs of every kind: string-focused, brass-focused, new music, Baroque, holiday, big band, and dance features, to name just a few. But on Oct. 26, coordinator and saxophonist Gunnery Sgt. Gregory Ridlington sought to create an unlikely program that celebrates marathon running while including every instrument in “The President’s Own.”
“I didn’t quite get them all, but came pretty close,” he said. “The first half has three pieces for groups of related instruments, such as string quartet, saxophone quartet, brass sextet, which allows the homogeneous blending characteristics of the groups to be heard. The second half includes three pieces that mix a wind instrument with stringed instruments. The contrasting colors are evident and the wind instruments will naturally take on a more soloistic role.”
The program includes Franz Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet in C, Opus 20, No. 2; Sir Phanos Dymiotis’ Ballad for Saxophone Quartet; Oskar Böhme’s Sextet in E-flat minor, Opus 30; Krzysztof Penderecki’s Quartet for Clarinet and Strings; Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Assobio a Jato; and Kenji Bunch’s 26.2.
“Kenji Bunch’s 26.2 is a musical depiction of a marathon. With the Marine Corps Marathon also being held on Oct. 26 it seems fitting, perhaps even destiny, for this music to be included on the program,” Ridlington said. The composition 26.2 references the mileage in a marathon, both in the title and with mile markers placed throughout the score. The piece chronicles the physical and emotional journey of race day, from the stillness of dawn to the energy of the start, the challenges of the later miles, and the triumph of the finish line.
An avid runner and noted by the New York Times as “a composer to watch,” Bunch blends wit, exuberance, lyricism, and unpredictable stylistic infusions in music that is both fresh and accessible. An accomplished violist, Bunch performs his own works and maintains a versatile performing career with folk, jazz, rock, and alternative groups. Many of these styles find an outlet in his compositions, creating a sound that would be equally at home in the concert hall or a hip coffee shop.
The Fall Chamber Series performance takes place at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 26 at the John Philip Sousa Band Hall, which is located at the Marine Barracks Annex at 7th and K Streets in southeast Washington, D.C. The performance is free and tickets are not required. Patrons may park for free in the lot under the overpass across the street from the Annex.