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CLASSICAL  March 2008

CLASSICAL March 2008

Subject:

The President's Own and Military Band Music

From:

Mitch Friedfeld <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 15 Mar 2008 18:41:16 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (58 lines)

One thing I'm really going to miss when we finally pull the plug and
leave Washington, D.C., is the military bands.  My son's trumpet teacher,
a Sergeant Major and a Ph.D., is head of the Army Herald Trumpets.  He
is also in the Army Brass Quintet and is generally in charge of all
ceremonial music for White House and other diplomatic functions.  Then
there's Pershing's Own (the Stage Band) and many more.
 The USAF's Airmen of Note, also a stage band, plays throughout the
area.  But -- and I hope my kid's trumpet teacher does not read this --
perhaps the most well known military band is the The President's Own,
the Marine Corps band whose seventeenth director was none other than
John Philip Sousa himself.

Last night I saw the President's Own for the fifth or sixth time, this
time at the main concert of the National Trumpet Competition at George
Mason University.  Think they play only marches?  Far from it.  Last
night they did this challenging program: Copland's An Outdoor Overture
(guest soloist David Krauss), an arrangement of Purcell's Funeral Music
for Queen Mary, the Arutiunian Trumpet Concerto, selections from Andra
Chenier, the John Barnes Chance Trumpet Concerto, and Ginastera's Dances
from Estancia.

Two pieces were especially noteworthy.  The Chance concerto was written
for and premiered by Doc Severinsen some 40 years ago.  Severinsen
apparently didn't like it and the piece disapppeared.  Guest soloist
Vince DiMartino spent many years trying to find and resurrect it, and
finally succeeded.  He has recorded it -- that was the announcement,
anyway; not sure if that means a commercial recording -- and has been
playing it in an effort to reintroduce it into the repertoire.  It was
a smash last night at least; it sounded like Shostakovich movie music,
and I don't mean that in a bad way.  The other piece of note was the
Arutiunian concerto, performed by Vladislav Lavrik, principal trumpet
for the Russian National Orchestra -- and who was named to that position
at the ripe old age of 20.  The Arutiunian is a staple of the trumpet
repertoire, one of those intermediate-to-difficult transcriptions that
can really stretch even an excellent high school trumpeter.  It was great
to hear how it really should be played -- not in an edited transcription
and with full orchestral accompaniment, not just piano.

The President's Own finished the concert with their two flag wavers, The
Stars and Stripes Forever and the Marine Corps Hymn (From the halls of
Montezuma).  All three soloists sat and played with the band for these;
watching Lavrik play Stars and Stripes and Montezuma brought on one of
those "I miss the Cold War" moments, at least for me.  And the degrees
of separation from Sousa melted away instantly.

Did I mention that these military band concerts are free?  Sometimes
tickets must be acquired in advance, but by law the bands are not
allowed to charge for their performances.  The military bands, not just
the President's Own, are top-notch performers of challenging, eclectic
music.  Do check them out if you ever get the chance.

Mitch Friedfeld, rethinking his retirement options at least temporarily

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