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Sunday, May 10 at 2 p.m. (EDT) - Coordinated by violinist Staff Sgt. Sheng Tsung-Wang, the program will feature various string ensembles, including string quartet, solo violin, and duets for violin and double bass and violin and piano. The concert, which will be held at John Philip Sousa Band Hall at the Marine Barracks Annex in southeast Washington, D.C., is free and no tickets are required. Live streaming at

Photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Rust

Chamber Music Series Features String Focus

5 May 2015 | Marine Band Public Affairs United States Marine Band

This Sunday members of “The President’s Own” will present a string-focused Chamber Music Series performance at 2 p.m. (EDT), Sunday, May 10 at the John Philip Sousa Band Hall at the Marine Barracks Annex in southeast Washington, D.C. The concert will also stream live at Here’s what coordinator violinist Staff Sgt. Sheng-Tsung Wang had to say about the program:

The first time I coordinated a chamber recital a few years back, I was very diligent in balancing the program with music of different styles, instrumentation, and even ensemble sizes. So when I was offered the opportunity to coordinate the upcoming May 10 chamber series concert devoted to music for stringed instruments, I wanted to try something a little different. This time, I didn’t play it safe by programming pieces just for the sake of having variety. Instead, I chose works for strings written by innovative composers who were ambitious enough to break from traditions in order to explore new avenues of expression.

The performance will kick off with Georg Philipp Telemann’s Fantasia No. 7 for Solo Violin. This work abandons a baroque tradition by featuring the violin without basso continuo support. The piece further demonstrates that polyphony is not only possible but successful on a bowed instrument, through the use of compound lines and giant leaps in register.

Closing out the first half will be the second of Béla Bartók's Six String Quartets, considered by many as a powerhouse of the chamber music repertoire. The three movements of the quartet buck the trend of a fast-slow-fast format by doing the inverse. Additionally, the quartet incorporates folk tunes not just from Eastern Europe, but also Arabic melodies and exotic rhythms from North Africa.

Following intermission, we will ease into the charming Suite for Violin and Cello by Reinhold Glière, transcribed for violin and bass by Frank Proto. The simple lyricism and down-to-earth nature of these duets offer a nice contrast to the Russian romantic style in which Glière usually writes. Proto’s transcription also allows us to appreciate the entire palette of sounds and colors made possible by the violin and bass.

The recital will conclude with Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Piano. Through this piece, you will witness the French composer’s departure from the impressionist style by his use of American jazz melodies and blues harmony in the central movement, complete with the violinist strumming chords and bending pitches. The final movement is a perpetual motion which will be sure to take your breath away! 

Perhaps it’s just me getting older and feeling more confident with my opinions and choices, but I also suspect that these composers wanted to distinguish themselves by writing music without any restrictions before they took their final breaths. I hope you will join us on May 10 to hear members of “The President’s Own” perform works by composers who were bold and inspired enough to create—with no strings attached.

The concert is free; no tickets are required.

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