Some years ago I had the privilege of appearing as viola soloist with the United States Marine Band, “the Presidents Own,” and I can tell you it was a great experience. Like the members of the other premier service bands, the bands of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, the Marine Band players are graduates of some of the nation’s top conservatories, and they’re terrific musicians. And they include great string players, too, not just winds, brass, and percussion.
I think the string players are probably happiest when they get to play classical repertoire, which in fact they do quite often… but go to YouTube and check out the performance of “The Stars and Stripes Forever” by two violinists from the United States Marine Band, and I promise you’ll be knocked out. By the way, the musicians of “The President’s Own” are definitely trained to carry themselves like Marines, but the one big advantage they have over the musicians of the other service bands, and of other Marine Corps bands—is that they don’t have to go through boot camp.
This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.