USC Thornton Winds Concert Program
Guest conductor Colonel Jason K. Fettig, 28th director of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, leads the USC Thornton Winds in a performance featuring Thornton faculty member and principal trumpet with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Thomas Hooten.
I. “La Plage”
II. “Pêche sous-marine”
(1926 – 2014)
Concerto for Trumpet
I. “Fanfare Fantasy”
Thomas Hooten, trumpet
(1958 – )
Fanfare for Uncommon Times
(1970 – )
Symphony #2 – Voices
I. Prelude: “of Passion”
II. “Shouts and Murmurs”
III. “Voices of One”
Lydia Brown, mezzo-soprano
James M. Stephenson
(1969 – )
Jacques Casterede, Divertissiment d’eté
Divertissement d’eté, diversion of summer, is a delightful work for wind orchestra. There is a great deal of Ibert in Castèréde’s Divertissement, which he created for the American Wind Symphony in 1965. Castèréde’s piece is in three movements: a jolly, happy romp called La Plage (The Beach); a quiet, wonderfully colored section called Pêche sous-marine (Fish Swimming Underwater); and an elfin, graceful Marche.
Frank Ticheli, Concerto for Trumpet
The original version of the concerto was composed for the distinguished American trumpeter, Armando Ghitalla (June 1, 1925 – December 14, 2001). I first heard his playing on old Boston Symphony recordings made during his tenure as their principal trumpeter. Years later, after his retirement from the BSO and appointment to the teaching faculty at the University of Michigan (where I was a student in the 1980’s), I was fortunate enough to become well acquainted with the man, his gourmet cooking and his splendid musicianship. My concerto was inspired not only by his musical gifts, but also his personal charm and wit.
The first movement is a wild fanfare whose main theme is based on Mr. Ghitalla’s initials (A and G), forming the interval of a ninth. The energy ebbs and flows, and gradually heats up as the dialogue between the soloist and orchestra becomes more agitated. In contrast, the second movement is a peaceful song. It develops a simple, lyrical theme framing a prayer-like middle section. The movement ends as a meditation on notes A and G. The final movement unleashes explosive energy during much of its five minutes. It is cast in the form of a rondo (A B A C A), with the middle section recalling the fanfare idea from the first movement. The energy builds relentlessly—a pressure cooker of excitement—exploding into the final climax.
The original version of the concerto, for trumpet and small orchestra, received its world premiere by soloist Armando Ghitalla and the Winters Chamber Orchestra, George Winters, conductor, on February 8, 1990 in San Antonio, Texas. The present version, for solo trumpet and wind ensemble, was commissioned by J. Peyden Shelton and the University of Utah Wind Ensemble, conductor.
Valerie Coleman, Fanfare for Uncommon Times
Fanfare for Uncommon Times (2021) Valerie Coleman (b. 1970) Valerie Coleman is a GRAMMY-nominated flutist, composer, and entrepreneur. In 2020, she was highlighted as one of the “Top 35 Women Composers” by the Washington Post and named Performance Today’s Classical Woman of the Year. The founder and former flutist of Imani Winds, Coleman has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras and has performed alongside a wide variety of classical and jazz musicians. Major commissions include Seven O’Clock Shout for The Philadelphia Orchestra for their opening night gala concert at Carnegie Hall. This came shortly after Umoja, another commission that marked the first time the orchestra performed a classical work by a living female African American composer. Her work Ashé was commissioned and premièred by Boston University Tanglewood Institute in the summer of 2022. Coleman’s music has been played by many North American orchestras and has written works commissioned from variety of institutions, from the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra to the Library of Congress. Coleman is also deeply committed to education, entrepreneurship, and chamber music advocacy, and recently joined the Mannes School of Music as the Clara Mannes Fellow for Music Leadership. Previously, she served on the faculty at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami as assistant professor of performance, chamber music, and entrepreneurship. Coleman’s Fanfare for Uncommon Times was commissioned and premièred by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s on June 27, 2021. In an interview for a recent performance of the work at the University of Texas, Austin, Coleman said, “We are going through some strange times right now…it almost seems sarcastic…to write a fanfare for the times we are currently living in. [But] I wanted to create a piece that brings people together, a piece that touches that within us, that thing that wants to survive … that gives us that regenerative, renewable hope.” She continued she deliberately wanted to “…bring the Black experience in; the turmoil [and] the upheaval,” as part of the ongoing conversation about race in this country.
James M. Stephenson, Symphony #2 – Voices
On April 23, 2016, my mother, Shirley S. Stephenson, passed away, at the age of 74. It was the first time anyone that close to me had died, and I honestly didn’t know how to respond. As this new piece – the symphony – was the next major work on my plate, I thought the music would come pouring forth, as one would imagine in the movies, or in a novel.
However, the opposite happened, and I was stuck, not knowing how to cope, and not knowing what to write.
Eventually, after a month or so, I sat at the piano, and pounded a low Eb octave, followed by an anguished chord answer. I did this three times, with three new response-chords, essentially recreating how I felt. This became the opening of the symphony, with emphasis on the bass trombone, who gets the loudest low Eb.
I vowed I wouldn’t return to Eb (major) until the end of the piece, thus setting forth a compositional and emotional goal all at once: an Eb to Eb sustaining of long-term tension, technically speaking, and the final arrival at Eb major (letter I, 3rd movement) being a cathartic and powerful personal moment, when I finally would come to terms with the loss of my mother.
The voice in the piece is that of my mother, an untrained alto, which is why I ask for it without vibrato. In the end, she finally sings once last time, conveying to me that “all will be ok”.
I think it is the most difficult times we endure that force us, inspire us, to dig deeper than we could ever imagine. On the one hand, I am, of course, deeply saddened by the loss of my mother; but on the other, I will always have this piece – which is the most personal to me – to in essence keep her alive in my heart. I always tear up at letter I. Always. But they are tears of joy and treasured memories of 74 years with my mother.
-James M. Stephenson
About the Artists
Colonel 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 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 J. 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 Mormon Tabernacle Choir 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 PBS’ “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 pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and clarinetist Ricardo Morales, to pop superstars Jennifer Lopez 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 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 across the globe 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 forty 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 com¬mand 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 on the podium of the Marine Band, 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, Zhou Tian, 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.