Washington Post March: : This is one of the great and most familiar of the John Philip Sousa marches. Like many of his marches, it features melodies that are quite sing-able, a characteristic that reminds us that Sousa was also a composer of operettas. Like many of his marches, Washington Post was written to commemorate an event or business, in this case the Washington Post Newspaper's award ceremony for the winner of an essay contest held in 1889.
National Emblem March: by Edwin Eugene Bagley. This march, much admired by John Philip Sousa, stands with Americans We (by Henry Fillmore) and Stars and Stripes Forever as the three great American patriotic marches. Composed in 1902 while on a train ride, Bagley was initially dissatisfied with the piece, and it was retrieved from the trash by members of his band. Note how cleverly the main melodies in this march incorporate the opening phrase of the Star Spangled Banner.
Appalachian Dances: James Curnow has become a well-recognized composer and arranger of American band music. In this setting of three pieces based on dance tunes from the Appalachian region, we hear a lively Jig, Haste to the Wedding, the slow and haunting Cherry Tree, and a fast “Breakdown,” Soldier's Joy. The rhythms and melodies of these pieces recall the Irish ancestry of the music of Appalachia.
Armed Forces Salute: : This witty and clever presentation of the service songs representing each of the branches of our armed forces will have you tapping your foot and humming these familiar melodies. Listen carefully as composer Bob Lowden masterfully inserts snippets of other Americana tunes, including Yankee Doodle, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and a sailor's hornpipe. We salute our veterans with this ever-popular piece.
Sinatra!: Arranger Stephen Bulla captures the essence of Frank Sinatra's wonderful big band jazz arrangements with these settings of Come Fly With Me, Witchcraft, That's Life, and Fly Me to the Moon. This medley transports us to a Las Vegas show with the hard-driving rhythms, and the rich trumpet and sensuous saxophone sectional sounds characteristic of Sinatra's style.
The Symphonic Duke: We pay tribute to the Big Band Era with this fine Tommy Newsom arrangement of hits by Duke Ellington, one of the greatest and most innovative of the band leaders of that era. Pieces range from the dreamy Mood Indigo (1931) to the flirtatious with Satin Doll (1953). Older audience members will remember arranger, Tommy Newsom from the Tonight Show Orchestra during the Johnny Carson days.
Birdland: This quirky jazz tune by Joseph Zawinal from 1977 is a favorite for the band with its syncopated rhythms and progressive harmonies. Birdland was composed for Zawinal's band, Weather Report, and was recorded by groups as diverse as Manhattan Transfer and Jefferson Starship. Arranger Bob Lowden shows his versatility with this piece, where he is as much at home as with the Armed Forces Salute, listed above.
Stars and Stripes Forever: There is no other piece of music that represents American pride and patriotism as well as this most famous of marches. As always we end our July 4 celebration John Philip Sousa's magnificent Stars and Stripes Forever.