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"The President's Own"


"The President's Own"

United States Marine Band

Colonel Jason K. Fettig, Director
Unit News
Dreams and Lullabies

By Master Sgt. Kristin duBois | United States Marine Band | January 26, 2016


“The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band returns to the Schlesinger Concert Hall with a concert that will tug at the heartstrings of the young at heart. Conducted by Assistant Director 1st Lt. Ryan J. Nowlin, the program, “Childhood Dreams,” was inspired by David Maslanka’s A Child’s Garden of Dreams; John Williams’ “Flight to Neverland” from Hook; and Percy Grainger’s Children’s March, “Over the Hills and Far Away.” “The mind of a child overflows with imagination, wonder, fantasy, fear, ambition, and limitless possibilities,” 1st Lt. Nowlin said. “This program dusts off the invincible magic of childhood that resides deep within us all.”

The magic and dreams give way to George Gershwin’s own “blues lullaby,” his Second Prelude for solo piano, performed by Gunnery Sgt. Russell Wilson. “This prelude is not just a piece of music, but a very specific mood with which people can easily identify. That mood is the blues, a calm lullaby, a lament, an exhausting walk,” Wilson said. “It’s special to me because my piano teacher, the late Dr. Gail McDonald, introduced it to me while I was in late middle school. I’ve been playing it ever since, off and on, growing both musically and physically. Since then my hands have grown big enough to reach all the left hand tenths the piece requires.”

Following Gershwin’s Second Prelude is Donald Grantham’s Fantasy Variations on Gershwin’s Second Prelude. Wilson was amazed to discover how many variations and ideas the composer was able to glean from Gershwin’s simple melody. “These Grantham variations are deep,” Wilson said. “I would have to slowly dig through the score to fully appreciate the many ways he quotes the prelude. After one listen, my impression was that Grantham found a way to fuse a contemporary sound with the early jazz sound of Gershwin’s orchestrations.” Wilson explained that the composer captures the unique mood of the prelude and develops it, while also capturing the mood of the faster outer preludes in tempo and rhythmic feel. However, Grantham did this without any melodic references to them. “I look forward to listening to the variations many times in rehearsal in order to fully ‘digest’ them,” Wilson said. “In that way, I feel bad for the audience —sometimes one listen is just not enough.” 

Program and Notes

Directions and Parking 

The Marine Band’s performance of “Childhood Dreams” will take place at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 31 at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria. Free parking is available in the lot adjacent the concert hall. The concert is free; no tickets are required.

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