Washington, DC --
This week’s Summer Fare performances at 8 p.m., Wednesday, June 8 and 8 p.m., Thursday, June 9 will bring musical duos to the fore and will be conducted by one of the Marine Band’s own, guitar player Master Sgt. Alan Prather. Prather’s performance is the culmination of the band’s Conductor Training Program, which gives musicians the opportunity to study conducting, receive coaching from current and former Marine Band Directors and leaders in the field, and ultimately lead the band in concert.
“Before joining the Marine Band in 1999 I spent seven years as a middle and high school band director,” Prather explained. “So, while conducting a band is not foreign to me, it has been a learning experience for me to be in front an ensemble such as this one. It is an experience that cannot be duplicated and one that I will never forget. The feedback and guidance from each of the Directors, as well as from former Marine Band director Colonel Tim Foley, has been extremely beneficial.”
Prather continued, “I enjoy conducting because I enjoy the opportunity to take what is written on the page and interpret it the way I feel it. In a way it’s as if the ensemble becomes the conductor’s instrument. I also enjoy the collaborative aspect of conducting an ensemble: the conductor and players working together to achieve a musical performance.” He carefully selected the program to include a variety of traditional band pieces, a swing-era arrangement, as well as a medley of show tunes, and a French march.
The program will also spotlight two legendary musical duos: clarinetist Benny Goodman and vibraphone player Lionel Hampton and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe. Benny & Lionel features clarinet player Staff Sgt. Shannon Kiewitt and vibraphone player Staff Sgt. Gerald Novak. “I’m looking forward to connecting with our audience members on this tune,” Kiewitt said. This arrangement was done by Loran McClung, a former colleague of Kiewitt’s when she was a member of the U.S. Army Field Band. “I’ve always wanted to perform it and was excited when I heard Staff Sgt. Gerald Novak mention the piece in a conversation,” Kiewitt said. “As a young clarinetist, I grew up listening to Benny Goodman and my grandfather was a big Benny Goodman fan as well. It’s that type of music that, when you leave the concert, you are still singing and whistling. My favorite movement to play is Memories of You. It’s a beautiful and simple melody and I love trying to emulate a vocalist such as Rosemary Clooney while I’m performing it.” Novak also enjoys the middle movement of the arrangement. “It sits between two fast, up-tempo and technically taxing sections and gives a chance to regroup and focus on more lyrical playing,” he said.
The legendary musical duo of Lerner and Frederick penned some of the most memorable songs from the Great American Songbook. “Not only is the music so well crafted, but the lyrics of their songs are masterful and so clever,” Prather said. “The way they link lyrical phrases together and play with words is really pure genius. ‘My Fair Lady’ is one of my favorite musicals and ‘On the Street Where You Live’ is part of the medley we are performing. Also, I was eager to perform these songs with Marine Band vocalist Master Sgt. Kevin Bennear who always gives 110% to everything he sings.”
Summer Fare takes place June through August at 8 p.m., Wednesdays at the West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol and Thursdays at the Sylvan Theater, on the grounds of the Washington Monument. For the Summer Fare performances, limited street parking is available. For concerts at the Capitol, patrons may 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. The 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.
Complete Program and Notes