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"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
Summer Fare Features YouTube Sampler

By MSgt Kristin duBois | United States Marine Band | July 21, 2015


The Marine Band’s Summer Fare performances on July 22 and 23 will give patrons a small sampling of the plethora of musical selections that are available for free on the band’s YouTube channel. The concert will feature two conductors: Director Lt. Col. Jason K. Fettig and trumpet/cornet player Gunnery Sgt. Robert Singer, as part of the Marine Band Conductor Training Program.

The concert begins with John Philip Sousa’s March, “Congress Hall,” which is the final march in Volume 1 of “The Complete Marches of John Philip Sousa.” According to Sousa scholar Paul E. Bierley in his book, The Works of John Philip Sousa, “Congress Hall is the name of a historic inn at Cape May, New Jersey. Cape May was and is today a popular east coast resort area, and in 1882 the U. S. Marine Band made its first appearance there under Sousa’s direction. The band had created little interest outside Washington until Sousa assumed leadership in 1880. News of its surprising excellence spread, and it was invited to play this engagement at Cape May from August 20 to 26, 1882. Sousa returned the compliment by composing this march and dedicating it to the proprietors of the inn, H. J. and G. R. Crump.”

Earlier this year, the Marine Band released new editions of Sousa’s first 17 marches, painstakingly recorded using Sousa’s traditional performance practices. As a companion to the recordings, patrons may also download the scores and parts for each of the marches. All of the original markings have been preserved so one can clearly delineate between Sousa’s printed markings and the traditional changes that often went undocumented in the parts. Volume 1 is the first of a multi-year recording project initiated by Fettig and is expected to encompass 6 volumes when completed in 2021.

“Congress Hall’s” full score and parts are available for free at www.marineband.marines.mil.Video of the score synchronized with the audio is available for free at www.youtube.com/usmarineband.

The Summer Fare performance continues with John Sinclair’s transcription of Charles Ives’ Country Band March, another popular selection at www.youtube.com/usmarineband. The Marine Band, conducted by then-Director Col. Timothy W. Foley, recorded the march for its 2003 educational offering “Charles Ives’s America.”

Ives was born in Danbury, Connecticut, where his father, George Ives, was a Civil War bandmaster and leader of the Danbury Cornet Band. Ives attended Yale University in New Haven, studying organ and composition, but both his father’s influence and his own early musical experiences in Danbury had as much impact on his musical sensibilities as his formal education. The elder Ives was intrigued by unplanned musical moments, like two bands playing in unrelated keys as they marched down the street in a parade, and George would often encourage Charles to explore unconventional sounds such as playing the accompaniment of a tune in one key on the piano while singing the melody in an unrelated key.

Some of these unusual sounds are found in Ives’ Country Band March, the composer’s affectionate valentine to the enthusiastic haphazardness of the community bands he heard as a young man in Danbury. Ives revels in the cacophony produced by these amateur musicians making early entrances, playing “wrong notes,” and cheerfully but inappropriately blurting out quotations of popular songs of the day, including “Arkansas Traveler,” “Battle Cry of Freedom,” “The British Grenadiers,” “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” “London Bridge,” “Marching Through Georgia,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Yankee Doodle,” and quotes of two very familiar Sousa marches. This dense but exuberant music often has simultaneous melodies competing for the audience’s attention, and the percussionists bringing up the rear frequently add or drop beats as the group struggles to stay together.

The final piece on the concert that can also be found at www.youtube.com/usmarineband is Michael Gandolfi’s Vientos y Tangos, which was recorded in 2005 by then-Director Lt. Col Michael J. Colburn for the educational recording, “Family Album.”

Gandolfi explains the work in his own words:


Vientos y Tangos (Winds and Tangos), completed in 2003, was commissioned by The Frank L. Battisti 70th Birthday Commission Project and is dedicated to Mr. Battisti in recognition of his immense contributions to the advancement of concert wind literature. It was Mr. Battisti’s specific request that I write a tango for wind ensemble. In preparation for this piece, I devoted several months to the study and transcription of tangos from the early style of Juan D’Arienzo and the “Tango Nuevo” style of Astor Piazzolla to the current trend of “Disco/Techno Tango,” among others. After immersing myself in this listening experience, I simply allowed the most salient features of these various tangos to inform the direction of my work. The dynamic contour and the various instrumental combinations that I employ in the piece are all inspired by the traditional sounds of the bandoneon, violin, piano, and contrabass.


The concert program will also feature Donald Hunsberger’s transcription of Dmitri Kabalevsky’s Overture to Colas Breugnon; J. R. Brubaker’s transcription of Louis Spohr’s Allegro moderato from Clarinet Concerto No. 3 in F minor with soloist Master Gunnery Sgt. John Mula; Randol Alan Bass’ Casey at the Bat with narrator Master Gunnery Sgt. Charles Casey; and C. Hellmann’s transcription of Franz Liszt’s Polonaise No. 2 in E.

The Summer Fare concerts are free but weather permitting and programming is subject to change. Inclement weather announcements will be made by 6 p.m. on the band’s Concert Information Line at (202) 433-4011 and on the Marine Band’s website and social media pages. Limited street parking is available, or patrons may take Metro. For concerts at the Capitol, take the red line to Union Station or the blue, orange, or silver lines to the Capitol South station. For concerts at the Sylvan Theater, take the blue, orange, or silver lines to the Smithsonian station.

CompleteProgram and Notes


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