The United States Marine Band, coined by Thomas Jefferson as “The President’s Own,” will stop in State College next week as part of its national tour.
Founded in 1798 to perform for the president of the United States and the commandant of the Marine Corps, the band will grace the stage of the North Building auditorium at State College Area High School. The show is free for those who reserve a ticket online.
“We’re proud to host such a historical and celebrated band,” said Chris Rosenblum, State College Area School District communications director. “This is a rare treat for our community.”
Rosenblum said that within the first 10 days of tickets becoming available, about two-thirds had been registered for online. The concert was sold-out by Tuesday, but seats for no-shows will be offered on a first-come basis after the first 15 minutes.
The band puts on more than 500 public performances annually and for the month of October will perform 28 times across 10 states in the northeast region.
While certainly a time commitment for the nearly 130 musicians involved, Staff Sgt. Heather Zenobia said she loves the experience.
A flutist in the band for 11 years, Zenobia said she’s performed at a variety of high profile events, including presidential inaugurations, state dinners and United Nations events.
“It’s sort of humbling to be a part of these historic moments and it’s really a lot of fun,” Zenobia said, recalling President Barack Obama’s inauguration as one of the most historical events at which she’s performed.
Since 1801, the band has performed at every single presidential inauguration.
One of Zenobia’s favorite events is the Kennedy Center Honors reception, an annual event at the White House recognizing important artists of the time.
Over the years, Zenobia said she’s seen Steven Tyler, Yo-Yo Ma and other “really interesting people” pass through the White House.
But to perform at State High for an audience that will likely include students who play in the school band or orchestra, Zenobia offered some words of advice for aspiring musicians.
“Practice, practice, practice. Somebody said it takes 10,000 hours of work to perfect any skill and I would say that’s absolutely the case,” said Zenobia, who has a bachelor’s degree in music, a master’s in flute performance and years of experience performing.
At the concert, Zenobia will be playing Paul Taffanel’s “Fantasie on Der Freischütz,” which she described as flamboyant, technically very challenging and full of beautiful melodies.
“It’s an honor to be selected as a soloist and it’s been a lot of fun to work on this piece,” she said.
The band has three different two-hour programs prepared, each featuring a different soloist. While this program features Zenobia on the flute, others feature the trumpet and xylophone.
Paul Leskowicz, SCASD’s music coordinator and director of bands at the high school, said a trombonist in the Marine band and friend of his contacted him in the spring to schedule the performance.
From then on, Leskowicz said he’s been looking forward to the high level of “precision and musicianship” the band will display for his students.
Maddie Biertempfel is a Penn State journalism student.
IF YOU GO
- What: U.S. Marine Band National Tour
- When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
- Where: State College High School north auditorium, 653 Westerly Parkway, State College
- Info: marineband.ticketleap.com/usmbtourstatecollege