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United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
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Marine Band Performs Song and Dance Music in Bowie, Md.

By Staff Sgt. Brian Rust | United States Marine Band | March 30, 2015


At 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 2, the Marine Band will perform an eclectic collection of songs and dances that span well over a century. Conducted by Assistant Director 1st Lt. Ryan J. Nowlin, the performance will take place at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts in Bowie, Md. The concert is free and no tickets are required; free parking is available.

The concert will kick off with John Philip Sousa’s “The Washington Post,” a march so closely identified with the popular 19th century two-step that the dance itself was commonly referred to as The Washington Post. It was during his tenure as Director of the Marine Band that Sousa composed the march to play at an award ceremony for The Washington Post’s essay contest for schoolchildren. Following the march, the band will perform former Marine Band arranger Thomas Knox’s Sea Songs, a medley of sea shanties and ballads including the well-known “Drunken Sailor” and “Shenandoah.” The concert’s first half will also include Philip Sparke’s virtuosic Song and Dance, featuring cornet soloist Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Strong; Percy Grainger’s Hill Song No. 2, an homage to the Scottish Highlands; and John Mackey’s Redline Tango, the composer’s first work for concert band. The title comes from the common term of “redlining an engine,” or pushing it to the limit, which the constantly-driving piece, infused with a tango rhythm, absolutely does. Redline Tango won the prestigious American Bandmasters Association/Ostwald Award in 2005, making Mackey the competition’s youngest recipient.

The concert’s second half will feature the works of two well-known composers almost a century apart: Leonard Bernstein and Piotr Ilych Tchaikovsky. The first piece is the transcription world première of Bernstein's I Hate Music! A Cycle of Five Kid Songs, transcribed by Nowlin and sung by mezzo-soprano soloist Gunnery Sgt. Sara Dell’Omo. The five brief songs each offer a perspective on the world through the eyes of a young girl. Bernstein wrote the poems used for the text of the cycle, and the songs explore a wide variety of topics and emotions.

Following the song cycle, the band will perform Bernstein’s popular Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, transcribed for concert band by Paul Lavender. The suite incorporates the very popular songs and dances from the Tony Award nominated musical of the same name. The musical was ground breaking when it opened on Broadway in 1957 and truly pushed the boundaries of musical theater. Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances has since become his most successful concert work.

“The pairing of Bernstein’s song cycle I Hate Music! with his iconic Symphonic Dances from West Side Story offers insight to the range and complexity of one of America’s most revered composers,” Nowlin said.

The concert will conclude with Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Jesters from The Snow Maiden. The play is based on the Russian folktale Snegurochka, or “The Snow Maiden,” and Tchaikovsky was commissioned to write the incidental music for it. A very energetic work, and often used as an encore in orchestral settings, the score was very popular and received more praise than the play itself.

“I’m very excited for this performance,” Nowlin said. “The program offers a wide variety of songs and dances that are certain to delight patrons of all ages.”

Complete program and notes

Directions and parking information

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