United States Marine Band performs Oct. 5 at Centre

September 26, 2004

For more than two centuries, the United States Marine Band has been part of the events that have shaped this nation.

Called "a band now judged by experts to be the best the world has ever produced" by Time magazine, and named by Town and Country magazine among a select list of "Class Acts in America," the Marine Band's omnipresent role in events of national importance has made it an important thread in the fabric of American life.

Like the monuments the Marine Band has helped dedicate, its continued presence stands as a symbol of the traditions and ideals upon which this country was founded.

On New Year's Day, 1801, the Marine Band was invited by President John Adams to make its White House debut in the still-unfinished executive mansion. In March of that year, the band performed for the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson and has performed for every presidential inauguration since. In Jefferson, the band found its most visionary advocate and friend.


Adams gave the band its charter, but Jefferson gave the band its identity. An astute musician himself, Jefferson recognized the unique relationship between the band and the chief executive by giving the Marine Band the title "The President's Own."

Its musicians appear at White House more than 300 times a year

Since its founding in 1798, the Marine Band's primary mission has been to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Whether performing for South Lawn arrival ceremonies, state dinners, receptions, or accompanying famous entertainers, Marine Band musicians appear at the White House more than 300 times annually.

Music, beyond the printed notes that define it, often is an elusive experience in which talent and training are placed in service of a composer's ideas. The conductor molds and guides the musicians' individual interpretations into a single, unified thought.

For Marine Band musicians, versatility is essential. The finesse of chamber music performance must coexist with the stamina required by demanding concert programs and the band's ceremonial commitments. These range from performing "Hail to the Chief" prior to a presidential appearance to funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. Musicians share these duties and must move easily from one style of music and ensemble setting to another. The goal is a seamless transition from concert to ceremony-defining the "stage" not by location but by the standards of musical excellence.

The band's yearly performance schedule runs the gamut of musical styles and idioms. Chamber music concerts showcase individuals as soloists, small ensemble performers, and conductors. Spring band concerts provide a venue for demanding repertoire in an optimal acoustical setting. Orchestra concerts feature the ensemble that most frequently performs at the White House. Summer band concerts continue a tradition of outdoor performance that is at the heart of the band's heritage. National tours and international trips bring the Marine Band's music to the heartland of America and to foreign shores.

From the earliest days of the nation, music has been part of life in the White House and an element of international diplomacy. It has allowed us to celebrate, to mourn, to honor, and to remember. The music of the Marine Band has spoken eloquently about who Americans are as people.

The band's integral role in the government's official life has affirmed the importance of the arts as a bridge between people.

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