A tribute to John Philip Sousa: America’s all time favorite at UNCG

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Emily Cramton
  Staff Writer


An exciting band concert paying homage to the world-famous John Philip Sousa Band will soon hit the stage at the UNCG Auditorium. It will be a night of entertainment presented in  “Sousa-style,” with quick-paced marches, popular and classics tunes with and solos performed by the UNCG Wind Ensemble. Led by Dr. John Locke, the UNCG Director of Bands, members of the Wind Ensemble and soloists will be costumed in uniforms like the Sousa Band of the early 20th century, and Dr. Locke himself will portray John Philip Sousa.


John Philip Sousa was an American composer and band director at the turn of the 20th century. His most popular compositions are his marches, including military and patriotic marches. His marches have remained so popular that he is often referred to as “The March King.” Sousa’s marches have become a symbol for American patriotism. One of his best-known compositions is “Stars and Stripes Forever,” the official national march of America.


Typical marches have a strong sense of regular rhythm, and were originally written for performance by military bands to play while they were marching. Sousa revolutionized the genre by creating marches that were simple and understated while retaining much excitement and energy. Around the same time, smaller community bands began to play marches, and eventually, marches were frequently seen on concert programs, instead of just functional military events. Due to their roots in the American military, marches often evoke patriotism and excitement about America.  


Sousa acted as head conductor of the US Marine Band from 1880 until 1892, and had the fortune of playing for many presidential events and inaugurations. After leaving the US Marine Band, Sousa formed his Sousa Band, which toured in Europe for many years and enjoyed much popularity. The Sousa Band, like many performing wind ensembles, consists of wind, brass, and percussion instruments. The instrumentation covers a wide range, from high sounding flutes to low euphoniums and tubas. Together, the instruments perform a cohesive ensemble with a tight, steady sound. As director, Sousa was in charge of interpreting  music and maintaining a steady tempo, as well as musical details through conducting.


The Sousa Band was known for having a rich, symphonic sound. Unlike symphony orchestras, which contain string instruments along with the winds, brass, and percussion, wind bands have to convey a complex texture and sound with fewer diverse instruments. The UNCG Wind Ensemble has the instrumentation of a typical band, but with a wider variety of percussion than the Sousa Band had in the early 1900s.


The Tribute to John Philip Sousa concert promises to be an exciting event. With classics, solos, and marches, there is a good mix of styles and genres throughout the night. The concert also features soloists, including Mark Clodfelter portraying Herbert L. Clarke, a notable cornet virtuoso, and Carla LeFevre portraying soprano Marjorie Moody, who often performed with the Sousa Band.


What truly makes this event special is the accurate costumes and portrayals of Sousa and performers at the time. Instead of just sounding like the Sousa Band, the UNCG Wind Ensemble will also look like the Sousa Band. The combination of sights and sounds will make this concert a truly immersive and exciting experience. It will be a great opportunity to become more familiar with this niche brand of  American music, and to see how Sousa incorporated a greater sense of patriotism and pride into music. Music that coveys and represents an era of American military, and a concert genre inherently American in sound and function.


A Tribute to John Philip Sousa: America’s All Time Favorite at UNCG will happen in the UNCG Auditorium on October 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. Seating is reserved, and advance ticket purchase is encouraged. Tickets are can be purchased online or at the School of Music Box Office, and student discounts are available. All proceeds benefit the School of Music Scholarship Fund.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized

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