So I got my first ever chance to ever really go fanboy last night. I saw the United States frickin’ Marine Band. As a lover of band music, this was like a pilgrimage for me. The rest of the audience consisted old people, and others who didn’t know not to clap between movements (it really pisses me off).
In case you don’t know what the big deal around the marine band is: Take any wind band, and then take away any obvious imperfections, turn it into a precision machine that does nothing but awesome, and add fancy uniforms. I can’t even image what it must be like for Colburn (the music director/conductor) getting to, every night, lead a band that will do anything he says, perfectly. It’s the band equivalent of the Vienna or Berlin Phil.
Being in Maine, they had to play an R.B. Hall march (he lived his life in Maine), so they played the “New Colonial”, which no joke, I heard at the last band concert I went to. It’s basically a Sousa knock off, but still charming. Then they played a new arrangement of Bach Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. I thought the arrangement was very good. My teacher, who plays euphonium, and trombone, was geeking out over how great the bass trombone sounded on the Bach. There were some really good organ effects. The next work Flute Concertino was by female composer Cecile Chaminade (ever heard of her? Me neither). It was lovely and the solo flute playing by Betsy Hill (she’s from West Virginia, which fits the name perfectly) was marvelous. The low point of the concert was Whitacre’s “October”, which was too fast, much too fast. Skip ahead to the last work before intermission, “Semper Fidelis”, Sousa, one of my favorites. During the trio, the brass lined up to play their soli’s. I was in the front row, so I had a trombone, literally, right in my face. I could’ve touched his slide. It was awesome.
After intermission they played a work they commissioned, “Flourishes and Meditations on a Renaissance Theme” by Michael Gandolfi. They took fire to the work, bringing out a unusually powerful performance. Maybe it’s because they haven’t played it 1 million times yet (cough, Stars and Stripes Forever), but it sounded great. Then they pulled the big crowd pleaser, “A Tribute to Bing Crosby.” All the old folk loved it. I did too, especially “Blue Skies” which I love. They then played the old battle horse, “Stars and Stripes Forever.” They probably play it at every one of the 300+ concerts they do year. They must hate it. I still love it. To close, they did a Armed Forces Medley. I could barely make out the tune for “Anchors Aweigh” but all the others were easily made out. They encored with “God Bless America.” The best part of that was how the MC asked the crowd to sing along, which is something you don’t see anywhere outside of rock shows, so that amused me.
Overall, it was worth missing rehearsal for.