“The President’s Own”

I had the privilege of attending a concert of the US Marine Band, ‘The President’s Own’ at Clowes recently. And, it is a privilege and an honor to see and hear these men and women share their talents. The Marine Band was established in 1798 by President John Adams with 32 drummers and fifers. In 1801 they performed for Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural and he gave them the title ‘The President’s Own’.
The band accompanied President Abraham Lincoln to Gettysburg for the dedication of the National Cemetery and his immortal Gettysburg Address. In 1880, twenty-five-year-old John Philip Sousa was appointed the 17th Leader, a post he held for 12 years. In 1886, he led the Band and President Cleveland and more than 20,000 marchers down 5th Avenue and Broadway on the way to New York Harbor for the unveiling ceremony of the Statue of Liberty.
The concert was free (thanks to us taxpayers!) and it was a full house. We got there early to get good seats in the balcony of course. They began with The Star Spangled Banner and ended with America, The Beautiful and everyone sang along. They also performed each of the military anthems and requested the audience to stand if they or a family member had or was serving in that branch. Thanks to my family, I am able to stand for each of them: uncles, nephews & sons have served in every branch of the military.
The crowd was very appreciative and gave several standing ovations. The program announcer was also a fantastic singer and did a melody of Harold Arlen songs ending with a beautiful rendition of Over The Rainbow. The jazz selections were outstanding too. They performed “For ‘The President’s Own’” which was written for them by John Williams on their 215th. Anniversary. As an encore, the Band did ‘Raiders Overture’ and again everyone was on their feet applauding.
Clowes Hall is a great venue, the acoustics are amazing. Only drawback is having to get up and down to let people in and out because there is no middle aisle. We sat in the back row of the balcony so there was plenty of leg room and no one behind us. The ushers, who are volunteers, kept everyone in order. The lady in our section even came over and asked the person using their cell phone to play a game to stop. Wish they’d do more of that at the movie theatre!
It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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