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"The President's Own" - U.S. Marine Band - US Airforce Band - US Navy Band

U.S. Marine Band will be performing in Porterville

By Esther Avila, The Porterville Recorder
October 2, 2004 - 9:00AM

PORTERVILLE -- A band whose primary mission is to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps is coming to Porterville.

Sponsored by the American Legion/Veterans of Foreign Wars Homecoming Committee, the Music Department of the Porterville Public Schools and the Porterville Recorder, the U.S. Marine Band "The President's Own" will play at the Buck Shaffer Theater inside the Porterville Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9.

In 1891, John Philip Sousa, the band's 17th director, led the Marine Band on its first concert tour. As a result, for more than a 100 years, the Marine Band has performed throughout the country offering a unique blend of traditional concert band and contemporary wind ensemble music suitable for people of all ages and musical tastes.

"This is the same band that plays at the White House. We are extremely fortunate to have a band of this caliber come to Porterville," said Buck Shaffer, former Porterville High School Panther Band director and namesake of the theater. "It is a concert that shouldn't be missed by anyone who has ever played or heard any of John Philip Sousa's marches."

The Marine Band has performed at the White House and across the U.S. for nearly two centuries. They perform for State arrival ceremonies, dinners, receptions, and accompany famous entertainers.

The Marine Band made its White House debut on New Year's Day, 1801. In March of that year, the band performed for the inaugural of Thomas Jefferson and has performed for every Presidential inaugural since.

Marine Band musicians appear at the White House more than 300 times a year. Additionally, they perform in more than 500 public and official performances annually, including concerts and ceremonies.

The Marine Band is directed by Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Colburn, the 27th director, who joined the band in 1987 as a euphonium player. As director, he is the Music Advisor to the White House, regularly conducting the Marine Band and Marine Chamber Orchestra at the Executive Mansion and directs the band at Presidential Inaugurations.

Admission is free and tickets are limited to four. They must be requested by mail or in person and are being distributed only by The Porterville Recorder, 115 E. Oak Avenue. A self-addressed stamped envelope must accompany the request.

Tickets holders should be seated by 7:15 p.m. and doors will be opened to the general public at 7:20 p.m. Any seats unclaimed 15 minutes before the concert will be given to patrons without tickets.

This story was published in The Porterville Recorder on October 2, 2004

That's entertainment

By Esther Avila, The Porterville Recorder
November 10, 2004 - 9:00AM

PORTERVILLE -- Outstanding - was only one of the words used by people to describe the United States Marine Band "The President's Own" which played at the Frank "Buck" Shaffer Theater in the Porterville Memorial Auditorium to a packed house Tuesday night. The band, whose primary mission is to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, took the stage among the loud whistles and hand clapping of 1,763 people - 569 of which were in the balcony of the auditorium. Following the introduction of the band's conductor, Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Colburn, the men and women of "The President's Own" played the Star Spangled Banner.

Then, drums, brass and crashing cymbals joined the tubas and trombones for "Nobles of the Mystic Shrine," a march written by John Philip Sousa for his nephew, a member of the Shriners.

"Overture to Pique Dame" followed, an operate genre featuring a couple of flute duets.

But it was a euphonium solo performance by Philip Franke that brought the house to their feet during "Original Fantasie" - a signature piece arranged by Simone Mantia.

The crowd whistled and clapped enthusiastically as a front line of trumpets, saxophones and euphonium-players were featured during the official march of the Marine Corps, "Semper Fidelis," a salute written also by Sousa.

"It's exuberant - absolutely wonderful," said Brenda Dodd, 47, of Hanford during intermission. "If you can feel my heart, it's beating out of control right now."

Porterville resident and a Marine during World War II and the Korean War, Albert Rosso, 80, also said he was enjoying the concert and felt it was an honor to have the band come to Porterville.

The second half opened with First Lieutenant Michelle A. Rakers, the first woman assistant director in the history of the band, conducting another Sousa march "The Invincible Eagle."

Following was Robert Russell Bennett's "Suite of Old American Dances" - music reflecting the mood of a Saturday evening barn dance, said Kevin Bennear, concert moderator.

Bennear sang baritone next as the band accompanied him in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Non piu andrai" from The Marriage of Figaro, which was described by Bennear as the greatest operas of all times.

Shouts of "Bravo," enthusiastic clapping and whistling followed.

"America, the Beautiful," and Sousa's famous "The Stars and Stripes Forever," complete with a piccolo soloist quartet front line, were also obvious favorites of the crowd.

The concert ended with a standing ovation for the band and conductor that lasted several minutes following "A Salute to the Armed Forces of the United States of America," arranged by Thomas Knox.

Veterans and families of American armed forces proudly stood while the song from their military branch of the service - from the Army, Navy and Coast Guard to the Airforce and Marine Corp. was played.

The concert was free to the public and co-sponsored by the American Legion/VFW Homecoming Committee, Porterville Unified School District and The Porterville Recorder. The event Coordinator was Frank "Buck Shaffer.

This story was published in The Porterville Recorder on November 10, 2004


The Navy's premier jazz ensemble, the "Commodores," presents the finest in America's truly original music. A specialty unit of the United States Navy Band in Washington, D.C., the group features 19 of the Navy's top jazz and "big band" musicians.  The Commodores combine the best of jazz and popular music.

By Esther Avila

PORTERVILLE -- There were three standing ovations Saturday night as the Commodores Jazz ensemble, performed at the Frank “Buck” Shaffer Theater inside the Porterville Memorial Auditorium.

The band, a specialty unit of the United States Navy Band in Washington, D.C., featured 19 of the Navy’s top jazz and big-band musicians.

Following the singing of the national anthem by vocalist Chief Musician Yolanda C. Pelzer, the band opened with a couple of numbers, including an original arrangement and composition by pianist Musician First Class (MU1) Dan LaMaestra from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The number also featured MU1 John Parsons on the drums and MU1 Robert Holmes on baritone saxophone.

“We’re working our way down California and up to Arizona during this tour,” said master of ceremonies Chief Musician William Moore. “Back in August we lost Maynard Ferguson. I understand he played here in this very auditorium in May.  Tonight’s concert features a number of Maynard’s [selections.]”

Ferguson was a Canadian-born jazz trumpet player and band leader, well known for his swinging style and ability to play in a remarkably high register. He performed at the Porterville Memorial Auditorium in May and died on Aug. 23, following a brief illness.

Special acknowledgement and wishes for a speedy recovery were also made to “The one and only Buck Shaffer” during the concert.

Saturday’s concert was the Commodore’s first performance in Porterville. After playing in the Bay Area on Friday night, the band continued to Los Angeles on Sunday.

“We do really well in towns like Porterville,” said Holmes, tour manager of the band. “We love coming and inviting the community, and we especially love playing in towns where other groups don’t necessarily stop.”

Holmes, who said he has been greatly inspired by Count Basie and the likes of Duke Ellington, had traveled to Porterville in September on a tour advance.

“I met Buck Shaffer here in September and I was very impressed,” Holmes said after the concert. “When he told us that Maynard Ferguson had played here in May, we knew we had to include quite a few of his numbers into tonight’s performance in his honor.”

Aside from Ferguson’s music, the band played a number of crowd favorites – from a trumpet solo by MU1 Nicholas Cooper of “Maria” from West Side Story to the band’s rendition of Duke Ellington’s “Perdido” and Count Basie’s “Monten Swing.”

Pelzer returned to the stage several times, dazzling the crowd with her smile and vocals, as she belted out such hits as “The Big Hurt,” “That Sunday, That Summer,” and Patsy Cline’s “Crazy.”

And so it continued with number after number featuring various band sections or players through the evening.

“Commodore Eyes” featured the saxophone section while “Rebel’s Riviere” was a number written especially for the new bass player who was making his national tour debut with the band and known for his sight-reading abilities.

But it was one of Maynard Ferguson’s numbers, “Got the Spirit” from the “Live at Jimmy’s” album featuring various musicians -- including a guitar solo by MU1 David Malvaso, and what many in the audience later described as an amazing drum solo by Parsons -- that brought the audience to their feet in the night’s first standing ovation.

“In every concert we like to give you a mix of old and new,” said Mulligan as the band continued with “Duke’s Courts and Kings” – a medley featuring World War II-era music, which included a few Glen Miller numbers and a clarinet solo by Mulligan.

The program ended with the band playing a tribute to the armed forces of the United States – the United States Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force, Army and Navy and closed appropriately enough with Pelzer once more taking the stage and ending with “America the Beautiful.”

“I enjoyed all of the concert but I especially liked the drums during that one number,” said Brandon Hill. “He was incredible.”

Through the evening, the 13-year-old saxophone player from Tulare could be seen in the audience drumming along to the music.

“It was wonderful – those 40s and 50s numbers – it was hard to keep myself from getting up and dancing,” said Jean Edwards, who attended with her husband, Hank.

Others expressed similar sentiments.

 “It was great. I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Diana Haggard of Strathmore. “It is so great that we can get something with such a high caliber here. And it was fun to run into so many of our friends here. We had a very nice evening.”

The concert was co-sponsored by The Porterville Recorder and the Porterville Unified School District.