It’s the “President’s Own!”

Alek Wolfe, Asst. Editor

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When you think of music, what bands or musicians come to your mind? The Beatles? Elvis? What about “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band?

On Thursday, Oct. 12 the “President’s Own” Marine Band stopped in St. Albans, VT for a concert as part of their 2017 National Concert Tour. Members from Bellows Free Academy (BFA) and the St. Albans community gathered in the Collins Perley Sports & Fitness Center for an incredible night filled with instrumental music.

Pieces that were performed that night included songs from John Williams and John Philip Sousa. Sousa is a very familiar composer for many “marching bands.”  To illustrate what prominence this Marine Band has, Sousa himself directed the band from 1880 to 1892. Williams, also known by many people for his movie-made pieces such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and E.T.,  has made a few guest appearances in the past to conduct the band.

“It’s the level of precision that they play with. It’s the fact that every single player in that band is one of the very best players of that instrument,” Eric Bushey, BFA band director, said.

The band is currently directed by their 28th Director, Colonel Jason Fettig.

Fettig has been in the band since 1997, playing the clarinet and performing many solos. Three years into his Marine career, Fettig was introduced to conducting when the band needed a new Assistant Director.

“I didn’t think I was qualified to move from clarinet to conducting, but I took the audition and was surprised when they selected me to be the assistant director,” Fettig said.

Throughout his Assistant Director career, Fettig has learned and taken away many skills and values.

“. . . [it] taught me not only how to be a better musician and conductor, but how to be a better leader and to take on all the responsibilities that go with conducting the band,” Fettig said.

He was Assistant Director for 13 years before Michael Colburn retired as Director in 2014.

“It was one of the most distinctive honors I’ve had in my professional career,” Fettig said.

Fettig is also the music advisor for the White House and regularly conducts the Marine Band at the Executive Mansion and for other Presidential events.

In 2017, Fettig lead the band in its 55th consecutive appearance at a United States Presidential Inauguration- the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

“I remember looking out into the crowd and thinking, this isn’t just an event for the Marine Band, this is a historic event,” former Marine Director, Michael Colburn said.

Colburn is a native of the St. Albans community and has been around music his entire life. He also was a BFA band member in his time at BFA.

“I feel very fortunate to this day to have been part of such a great band program. To hear the band playing so well and [with] such sophisticated music, it really is impressive,” Colburn said.

“It’s a great way to connect with people and a great way to bring joy to people who listen and play it. It triggers emotion and memory; I love being a part of that,” Bushey said.

It is not certain when the “President’s Own” Marine Band will be back in town, but they are surely something you don’t want to miss when they return.

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1 Comment

One Response to “It’s the “President’s Own!””

  1. Judy Breitmeyer on November 8th, 2017 9:45 am

    Thank you for this great piece. I am still upset that I missed the performance. And, reading this confirms it! Anyway to include MUSIC with a story in the future?

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