"The President's Own" kicks off 210th anniversary with Sousa concert

14 Jan 2008 | Staff Sgt. Brian Rust

In celebration of its 210th anniversary, the Marine Band’s 2008 Showcase Series centers around several special Living History concerts. With unique repertoire, numerous guest artists, period instruments and uniforms, and galleries of artifacts and images, each concert will represent a journey back in time in American history to experience the evolution of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band.

  The celebration will be initiated with the traditional Sousa Season Opener this Sunday, Jan. 13, at 2 p.m., at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts Concert Hall. This performance will be followed by a concert entitled “From Fife and Drum” at Northern Virginia Community College's Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center in Alexandria, at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 20, which chronicles the very first years of the Marine Band’s existence.

  Following the season opener, Living History performances continue with programs that revisit the tumultuous Civil War era and the golden age of radio. The Marine Chamber Orchestra also will participate in the series with a concert highlighting the musical tastes of presidents throughout American history, narrated by White House music historian Dr. Elise Kirk.

  Later in the season the orchestra will recount its establishment at the turn of the 20th Century with then-Director Captain William H. Santelmann by recreating the concert performed for one of the most important social events of the day: the White House wedding of President Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice. Santelmann’s granddaughter, Betsy Santelmann Grunwell, will be on hand to discuss her family’s rich Marine Band legacy.

  Former Directors Colonels John R. Bourgeois and Timothy W. Foley will return to the podium to take part in the anniversary celebration with concerts featuring some of their favorite selections. Col. Bourgeois will be joined by former baritone vocalist retired Master Gunnery Sergeant Michael Ryan, and Col. Foley by guest soloist Jennifer Montone, principal horn of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

  “In addition to our Living History concerts, we are celebrating our anniversary with an unprecedented number of guest artists and special concerts,” said Director Colonel Michael J. Colburn. “Virtually every program will offer something unusual, such as a guest conductor, soloist, historian, or the world première of a new composition or arrangement. Our goal in this anniversary year is not only to celebrate history, but make some as well!”

  The 2008 Showcase Series includes solo performances by David Krauss, principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York and Philip Smith, principal trumpet of the New York Philharmonic and the world premières of new works by Melinda Wagner and David Rakowski. Patrons also can continue to enjoy performances by the Marine Chamber Ensembles throughout the season in the intimate setting of the John Philip Sousa Band Hall at the Marine Barracks Annex.

  The 210th anniversary season will conclude with a gala performance on July 20, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, with guest conductor John Williams. Williams led the Marine Band in 2003 for its 205th anniversary and returns to conduct some of his most beloved music. The concert is free, but tickets are required. Ticket information will be available in May on the Marine Band website and in NOTES, the Marine Band newsletter.

  “The United States Marine Band shines as a beacon among the many great performance ensembles with which our country is blessed,” Williams said. “It can be a source of pride and joy for all of us that, throughout its history, our beloved Marine Corps has been musically represented by this stellar organization, and the invitation to conduct the band will again be, for me, a very great honor and privilege.”

  All concerts are free and no tickets are required unless indicated otherwise. For additional information and program selections, or call the concert information line at (202) 433-4011.

Headquarters Marine Corps