This article was published in The Appalachian.
Boone turned out in droves Tuesday night to hear “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in Farthing Auditorium.
The band is “a unique organization, in that we were founded by an act of Congress,” Major Jason K. Fettig, assistant director of the band, said.The Marine Band was signed into existence by President John Adams in 1798. In 1801, they played at Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration. It was Jefferson who gave the band their “President’s Own” title.
“We’ve played at every inauguration since,” Fettig said.
The band is made up of 155 members, 130-135 of which are musicians. All members are active, non-combatant members of the United States Marine Corps. Their primary mission is to provide music for the president and Marine Corps.
“[The band is] designed to accommodate any kind of music the Marine Corps may need,” Fettig said.
The schedule of a Marine Band member “varies wildly,” Fettig said. During the weeks leading up to a presidential inauguration, a band member may pull multiple 12-16 hour work days.
Currently, the band is on a 31-day tour of the United States.
The Marine Band started touring the country in 1891, at the urging of then-director John Philip Sousa.
Sousa noticed that most Americans never got to hear the Marine Band play and “felt like it was not fair to the rest of the nation,” Fettig said.
During tours, the Marine Band rotates between three complete programs. This allows people can hear the band multiple times without hearing the same performance and it “keeps our musicians interested,” Fettig said.
At Appalachian State University, the Marine Band played a variety of songs, from patriotic selections like “Semper Fidelis” and “The Stars and Stripes Forever” – both composed by Marine Band alumnus John Philip Sousa – to show tunes like “On the Street Where You Live” from “My Fair Lady.”
Fettig said the band always receives an “incredible” response while touring. In fact, they’re so grateful that Fettig describes tour appearances as a “rejuvenating experience” for the musicians.
More information about The President’s Own United States Marine Band can be found at marineband.usmc.mil. Information about future performances and events at Farthing Auditorium can be found at farthing.appstate.edu.