March 4, 2022 @ 8:00pm

Col. Jason K. Fettig

Colonel Jason K. Fettig is the 28th Director of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. He joined in 1997 as a clarinetist and soon became a frequently featured soloist with both the band and the Marine Chamber Orchestra. After serving four years in the organization, he was select­ed as an Assistant Director, and he conducted his first concert with the Marine Band on Aug. 1, 2001. He was commissioned a first lieutenant in July 2002, promot­ed to captain in August 2003, and became the band’s Executive Officer the following year. He was promot­ed to major in August 2007 and to lieutenant colonel in July 2014, one week before assuming leadership of “The President’s Own.” He was promoted to his present rank in August 2017 in the Roosevelt Room by President Donald Trump. He is the third Director of “The President’s Own” to be promoted to colonel in a White House ceremony.

As Director, Col. Fettig is the music adviser to the White House and regularly conducts the Marine Band and Marine Chamber Orchestra at the Execu­tive Mansion. He led the musical program for the Inaugurations of President Donald Trump and President Joseph Biden and the State Funeral of George H.W. Bush. He also serves as music director of Washington, D.C.’s historic Gridiron Club, a position held by ev­ery Marine Band Director since John Philip Sousa.

During his time as Director, Col. Fettig has led the band for numerous major national events both at the White House and throughout the country. He conducted national broadcast performances for the 200th Anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, three Independence Day specials from the White House, a live Veterans Day performance with The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, and an appearance on the David Letterman Show at the invitation of Michelle Obama in New York. He has also conducted the Band and Chamber Orchestra live on NBC’s Today Show and on the PBS special “In Performance at the White House.” Fettig leads frequent concerts throughout the Washington, D.C., area and across the country during the band’s annual national tour. He has regularly collaborated in performance with world-class artists across a wide range of genres, from legendary journalist Jim Lehrer, to clarinetist Ricardo Morales and Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, to pop superstars Jordin Sparks and Lady Gaga. In May 2019, Col. Fettig led the Marine Band on its first international appearance since 2001 with multiple performances and broadcasts throughout Japan. Live performances by the Marine Band under his direction are often heard on National Public Radio and he has twice partnered with the National Symphony Orchestra and their Music Director Gianandrea Noseda for special joint performances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Fettig has continued to bring renowned guest conductors to the podium of “The President’s Own,” including JoAnn Falletta, Bramwell Tovey, and John Williams.

In May 2019, Col. Fettig and the Marine Band, in partnership with the All-Star Orchestra conducted by Gerard Schwarz, won an Emmy at the 62nd Annual New York Emmy Awards for a program entitled “New England Spirit.” Fettig also represented the Marine Corps at the White House when military bands were awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Donald Trump in 2019.

Throughout his career with the Marine Band, Col. Fettig has been deeply committed to music education and has taken an active role in the evolution and expansion of the many educational initiatives of “The Presi­dent’s Own.” He began an interactive Young People’s Concert series in 2006 and authored, hosted, and conducted this popular annual event until 2015. He has made a priority of maintaining a significant mentorship presence in schools during the band’s annual national concert tours, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, he spearheaded a remarkable virtual expansion of the band’s online educational resources, performances and productions, an effort that has directly reached over 100,000 students so far. Included in these innovative new programs is a video series entitled the “Digital Rehearsal Hall,” which provides viewers a behind-the-scenes view into the working rehearsal process of the Marine Band. Fettig has served as a clinician or guest conductor at over 40 universities and colleges. He often teaches at international conducting symposia, and he has appeared as conductor for numerous national honor band and All-State festivals around the country, leading both bands and orchestras.

In 2014, shortly after assuming com­mand of the Marine Band, Col. Fettig launched an ambitious project to re-record all of the marches of John Philip Sousa and provide free performance and educational materials online to schools and ensembles worldwide. In addition to his focus on preserving and celebrating historic band repertoire and performance practice, Col. Fettig remains a fervent advocate for contemporary American music, and has exponentially increased the Marine Band’s leadership in bringing new music into the canon. During his tenure as Marine Band Director, Fettig has commissioned and/or conducted the world premieres of nearly three dozen works, including substantial new pieces by James Stephenson, Jacob Bancks, Jennifer Higdon, David Rakowski, Narong Prangcharoen, Peter Boyer, Zhou Tian, Jessica Meyer, Michael Gilbertson, Dominick DiOrio, Donald Grantham, and Jonathan Leshnoff.

Col. Fettig is a 1993 graduate of Manchester Central High School in New Hampshire and holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in both clarinet performance (1997) and music education (1998), and a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Maryland, College Park (2005). He studied clarinet with Michael Sussman and David Martins, and his principal conducting teachers were Malcolm W. Rowell and James Ross. Additionally, Col. Fettig received instruction from several other renowned conductors, including Osmo Vänskä and Otto Werner Mueller.

In 2014, he was elected as a member of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association, and serves on the board of directors for several national organizations, including the John Philip Sousa Foundation and The National Band Association.

Marine Band

Established by an Act of Congress in 1798, the United States Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. Its mission is unique—to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

President John Adams invited the Marine Band to make its White House debut on New Year’s Day, 1801, in the then-unfinished Executive Mansion. In March of that year, the band performed for Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration and it is believed that it has performed for every presidential inaugural since. In Jefferson, the band found its most visionary advocate. An accomplished musician himself, Jefferson recognized the unique relationship between the band and the Chief Executive and he is credited with giving the Marine Band its title, “The President’s Own.”

Whether performing for State Dinners or South Lawn arrivals, events of national significance, or receptions, Marine Band musicians appear at the White House an average of 200 times each year. These performances range from small ensembles such as a solo pianist, jazz combo or brass quintet to a country band, dance band or full concert band. The diversity of music often presented at the Executive Mansion makes versatility an important requirement for Marine Band members. Musicians are selected at auditions much like those of major symphony orchestras, and they enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps for permanent duty with the Marine Band. Most of today’s members are graduates of the nation’s finest music schools, and more than 60 percent hold advanced degrees in music.

In addition to its White House mission, “The President’s Own” performs an annual season showcase series of indoor concerts and a popular outdoor summer concert series on the National Mall. Musicians from the band are frequently highlighted in solo performances and participate in more intimate chamber ensemble recitals that feature a wide range of smaller instrumental groups. Marine Band musicians also perform in many different types of ceremonies and events throughout the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area including the Presidential Inauguration, Full Honors funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, Honor Flight ceremonies for veterans at the National World War II Memorial, Friday Evening Parades at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., and educational programs in schools throughout the National Capital Region.

Each fall, the Marine Band travels throughout a portion of the continental United States during its concert tour, a tradition initiated in 1891 by “The March King” John Philip Sousa, who was the band’s legendary 17th Director. As Director from 1880–92, Sousa brought “The President’s Own” to an unprecedented level of excellence and shaped the band into a world-famous musical organization. Since Sousa’s time, the band’s musical reach has extended beyond America’s borders on several occasions with performances in England, Norway, Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Singapore, and the former Soviet Union. During Sousa’s tenure, the Marine Band was one of the first musical ensembles to make sound recordings. By 1892, more than 200 different titles were available for sale, placing Sousa’s marches among the first and most popular pieces ever recorded.

While the Marine Band is firmly dedicated to preserving the unique musical traditions established over its long history, it is equally committed to serving as a leading ensemble in the development of new repertoire for winds. In 2000, “The President’s Own” commissioned David Rakowski’s Ten of a Kind, a piece honored as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in music in 2002. In 2007, the band commissioned “Scamp” by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Melinda Wagner, and the Marine Band premièred Scott Lindroth’s Passage at the 2010 Midwest Clinic in Chicago. In 2011, the band commissioned and premièred Flourishes and Meditations on a Renaissance Theme by Michael Gandolfi at the American Bandmasters Association’s annual convention in Norfolk, Va. Most recently, music written for the Marine Band has included Gerard Schwarz’ Above and Beyond, Jacob Bancks’ The Information Age and Laurence Bitensky to write Fearsome Critters, the latter of which was premièred at the Texas Bandmasters Association Convention in San Antonio in July 2012.

On July 11, 1998, the Marine Band celebrated its 200th anniversary with a command performance at the White House and a gala concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington attended by President and Mrs. Clinton. Also during its bicentennial year, the Marine Band was the only ensemble inducted into the inaugural class of the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in Cincinnati.

Given its status among American musical organizations, “The President’s Own” continues to attract prominent guest conductors from major orchestras around the globe, including Osmo Vänskä, Leonard Slatkin, José Serebrier and Gerard Schwarz. On July 12, 2003, the Marine Band returned to the Kennedy Center to celebrate its 205th anniversary in a concert featuring guest conductor John Williams, renowned composer of American film and concert works and laureate conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. Williams returned to the podium in 2008 to conduct the final concert of the Living History concert series celebrating the Marine Band’s 210th anniversary. In honor of the Marine Band’s 215th birthday, John Williams composed and dedicated an original work to the Marine Band aptly titled “For ‘The President’s Own.’”

The Marine Band’s integral role in the national culture and in the government’s official life has affirmed the importance of the arts as a bridge between people. Since 1798, the Marine Band’s mission has been to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. As the only musical organization with that mission, the Marine Band looks to the future, viewing its history and tradition as the foundation upon which to build its third century of bringing music to the White House and to the American people.

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