July 13, 2015 --
2010, the Marine Band hosted its first official Alumni Event, which was
attended by more than 100 former members. These Marines had performed for every
president since Franklin D. Roosevelt and traveled from 19 different states to
participate. Five years later, members of “The President’s Own” are again
preparing to welcome back their “graduates.”
Marine Band members Master Gunnery Sgt. Elliot ‘Ike’ Evans [tuba] and Gunnery
Sgt. John Wojcik [clarinet] were the driving force for getting the alumni event
off the ground in 2010,” explained Maj. John R. Barclay, Executive Assistant to
the Director. “Since the previous alumni event was so popular, we are thrilled
to host our second event this summer and hope to continue the tradition every five
Alumni Events will take place July 14-16, and will include rehearsals, tours, a
trip to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, a reception, and two Alumni Band
concerts on the National Mall. Former Marine Band Directors and Assistant Directors,
to include Col. John R. Bourgeois, USMC (ret.), Col. Michael J. Colburn, USMC (ret.),
and Maj. Dennis R. Burian, USMC (ret.), will conduct the programs.
the attendees served with “The President’s Own” for 30 years or three, many can
agree that their tenure with the band had an impact on shaping their lives. In 2010,
“Notes” featured the stories of five musicians who had extensive careers in the
Marine Band and retired after serving 20-30 years. This year “Notes” will
explore the career paths of three former Marines who served shorter enlistments
with the unit and how music continued to play a role in their lives long after
their time in the band.
Watson – Oboe (1974-76)
Lt. Col. Kenneth Watson, USMC (ret.), recalls being introduced to the Marine
Band by his teacher Eric Barr, who had been a member of the Marine Band from
1967-71. Watson was majoring in music composition at Southern Methodist
University in Dallas. As graduation approached, Barr recommended that Watson
audition for the Marine Band.
Barr confirmed an opening, Watson traveled to Washington, D.C., to take an
audition. Weeks passed before he heard that he was accepted and he reported for
duty with “The President’s Own” in June 1974.
had many exciting memories in his short time with the organization, including
when the Marine Chamber Orchestra performed his Beatles arrangement of “Martha My
Dear” at the White House.
intention was always to be in an orchestra and use the Marine Band as a
stepping-stone to a symphony,” recalled Watson. But becoming a Marine had an
unexpected effect on him.
stationed at ‘8th and I,’ Watson found himself being drawn to the other Marines
stationed at Marine Barracks Washington and was inspired by the leadership and
sense of mission he witnessed. After being with the band for a little more than
a year, Watson decided he wanted to be a Marine Corps officer, and he worked to
enter the Enlisted Commissioning Program. During this period he received
mentorship from Maj. John J. Mullen Jr., an infantry officer who was attached
to the Marine Band.
graduated from Officer Candidate School, Maj. Mullen gave me his second
lieutenant bars,” said Watson. “He supported me through the entire process.”
gave up playing music for 11 years and focused on being a Marine aviator. While
in the Corps, Watson flew A-6E Intruder and EA-6B Prowler jets. He also
produced the Command and Control Warfare family of doctrine textbooks for the
Marine Corps, and served as an electronic warfare/information warfare
specialist on senior staffs. After 23 years and 15 moves, he retired at the
rank of lieutenant colonel in 1997. Watson went on to have a second career with
Cisco Systems, managing critical infrastructure protection, a job that eventually
transferred him back to the Washington, D.C., area. He retired from Cisco in
through his aviation career, Watson rediscovered his love for the oboe. He has
performed with the Austin, Corpus Christi, and San Antonio, Texas symphonies,
as well as the Okinawa Symphony in Japan. He also began composing and arranging
double reed quartet music. Today, Watson also occasionally performs with a
double reed quartet that includes some of the current members of the Marine
Band during their off-duty time.
considered the Marine Band and Marine Barracks my home duty station,” said
Watson. “I’m excited to return for the Alumni Event to see former colleagues
and of course to play in the concerts.”
Anderson – Oboe (1957-61)
oboist Richard Anderson graduated from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., with
a degree in oboe performance. He applied to Indiana University’s master’s
program, but also planned to take auditions with the Navy and Army Bands. While
in Washington, Anderson decided to contact the Marine Band.
Director Capt. Dale Harpham invited me to come to the Marine Barracks,” recalled
Anderson. “Col. Schoepper had the day off so I played for Lt. James B. King, Jr.
and Harpham. I was accepted that day and didn’t have to take the other
favorite part of the job was “playing with all of the fine musicians.” His fondest
memories were performing at the White House and going on tour in 1958, when the
band played two concerts per day for 63 days.
was a struggle, but when I think back on it, I am so grateful for the wonderful
venues that I got to perform in,” noted Anderson.
member of the Marine Band, Anderson had his wisdom teeth extracted but
experienced a disheartening outcome. For 10 months following his surgery, the
nerve in his lower jaw was numb, tabling his ability to perform. During those
months, Anderson worked in the band’s library and began to explore his newfound
interest in dentistry.
Mike Hamilton and I were taking courses for
our masters program at Catholic University, he challenged me to take a course
in something other than music,” said Anderson. “We both took chemistry at
George Washington University and Mike went on to become a doctor and I became a
completed his degree at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, during which
he stopped playing oboe. Throughout his studies, he took a special interest in cancer
patients and for his residency at the University of Houston he focused on prosthodontics.
While in Texas, he started playing oboe again with the Houston Civic Orchestra along
with his wife Marilyn who is a flutist.
Anderson returned to Kansas and took a position at the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA
Medical Center in Leavenworth where he treated trauma patients from WWII, Vietnam,
and the Korean War.
addition to dental care, maxillofacial prosthetics was my passion because each
case is unique,” explained Anderson. “I made palatal obturators, eyes, ears, and
noses for parts of the face that were missing from cancer or war trauma.”
the VA, Anderson also taught at the University of Missouri and played in the
Kansas City Civic Orchestra for 31 years. He retired from the VA in 1996 and
spends time with his children and grandchildren.
admits that he hasn’t kept in touch with any of his former Marine Band colleagues,
but notes that he’s extremely active on the Marine Band website and loves downloading
fall, I saw the band on tour in Concordia, Kan.,” said Anderson. “I had a great
time meeting with the current members of the oboe section, including Leslye
[Barrett] and Joe [Deluccio].”
Call – Euphonium (1976-81)
player Glenn Call’s first enlistment in the military did not take place in the
Marine Band. In 1969, while a music education major at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh,
Call took an audition with the Marine Band, but placed as a runner-up. He
subsequently enlisted in the Army where he was a member of the U.S. Continental
Army Band in Fort Monroe, Va. While stationed at Fort Monroe, Call drove to
Washington, D.C., weekly to take lessons from the famed Master Gunnery Sgt.
Arthur Lehman of the Marine Band.
decided I didn’t want to be a music educator. I wanted to be in the Marine
Band,” noted Call.
his plans to take the next audition were derailed by a deployment to Vietnam.
When he returned he began a pre-medicine program at Southwest Missouri State
University in Springfield.
those studies I was working at a bicycle shop, and I was approached by a
student for euphonium lessons,” explained Call. “I couldn’t figure out how he
knew that I played euphonium, but then discovered his father was my mentor, Yates
student improved so quickly, Call had to practice to keep up. While helping his
student prepare for an audition for the Eastman School of Music in Rochester,
N.Y., Call was inspired by the repertoire and made preparations himself to take
the audition. Not only was he accepted, but with a full scholarship. While at
Eastman, Call returned to Washington to take another Marine Band audition.
time I won the audition, but when I arrived in Washington I discovered that the
Marine I was replacing decided to extend his contract for another year.”
temporarily assigned to the Marine Band library for about five months. Once
making it to the stage, Call’s favorite memories include his first concert in
July of 1974, the Marine Corps birthday worship service at the National
Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and soloing with the band. As Call’s enlistment
was about to end, his professor at Eastman lured him back to the university to
teach in 1981, where he found an interest in Dixieland performance.
getting my last haircut and the dog handler for Chesty V, a friend of mine from
the Staff NCO club, notified me that Chesty was retiring and that they were having
a difficult time finding a home for him,” said Call. “I volunteered to take
him, so I inherited Chesty on my last day in the Marine Corps.”
Eastman, he earned his masters in music in 1982, but his education and interest
in teaching did not end there. During his time as a music educator, he was a
band director at Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester, then band director at
Alden High School in New York from 1990-93, where a band tour to Germany
culminated with a concert in Castle Neuschwanstein. While teaching, he applied for
the doctoral program at Eastman, and was told that while all the positions were
filled for that year, he should use that time to complete the language requirements.
Call began taking German at the local community college and began working on a teaching
certificate in German at the University of Buffalo. He was invited to pursue a
Ph.D. in German Literature, and while working on his doctoral dissertation, Call
taught English to businessmen and technicians in Dresden, Germany, and to engineering
students in the Republic of Korea.
the years, he continued to teach euphonium and conduct community bands in New York
and in 1990 the Yamaha corporation asked his assistance in designing a new
professional euphonium, resulting in the YEP642 and Call being named a “Yamaha
took courses in SCUBA, eventually obtaining his license as a commercial diver.
“In 2005, I was teaching junior high German when Hurricane Katrina hit the
gulf,” notes Call. “The need for commercial divers was great because the oil
fields were destroyed, so I spent that fall helping with the recovery.”
returned from the gulf, he decided to retire and so did his wife Eileen, who
had been teaching for 38 years. He learned how to sail in the Army and had often
participated in the hobby with the late Marine Band trumpet player Master Gunnery
Sgt. David Johnson, USMC (ret.). One night he had a dream that he had sailed
down the Atlantic coast. That next morning he awoke, got on Craigslist, and
purchased his first sailboat. He set out through the Erie Canal, down to the
port of New York and kept going.
the journey people asked me when I was going to stop, and I would say when it
gets warm enough,” explains Call. “Then I decided I would stop when the water
looked a certain color.”
finally found that perfect turquoise water when they hit Marathon in the
Florida Keys and keep the boat docked there, living on it half the year.
had many adventures throughout his life but explains: “The Marine Band was the
most astounding thing I’ve been a part of. Every time I sat down with the
group, we learned something profound. This experience has affected almost
everything I have done with my life.”
The Marine Band Alumni Events will take place from
July 14-16 and are open to all former members of “The President’s Own.” The
concerts on the National Mall are free and open to the public. To see the list
of attendees, please visit www.marineband.marines.mil.