For the first time in five years, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band returns to the Midwest on tour, performing a free 7:30 p.m. concert on Oct. 13 at Augustana College’s Centennial Hall, 3703 7th Ave., Rock Island. 

Free tickets are available online now HERE, limit four per request. Seating is general admission, and ticket holders must be seated by 7:15 p.m.; remaining seats will be released to those waiting in the standby line at that time. 

Col. Jason K. Fettig is director of the United States Marine Band in its 225th anniversary year. It’s the oldest professional musical organization in the nation, founded in 1798.

“We are incredibly excited to continue the tradition of our national concert tour,” Marine Band Director Col. Jason K. Fettig said in an Augustana news release. “Musicians of the band are more eager than ever to share their musical talents with audiences live and in-person on this Midwest tour.”

Fettig has programmed musical selections in the style of the band’s 17th director, John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), who initiated the concert tour tradition in 1891. Concertgoers can expect a mix of works including traditional band repertoire, Sousa marches, contemporary compositions, vocal and instrumental solos, and a patriotic salute to the Armed Forces.

The Marine Band will play Augie’s Centennial Hall on Oct. 13.

“We have tremendously appreciative patrons who come to Marine Band concerts for all types of different experiences, so our programs are designed to include a great variety of music that mirrors the wonderful diversity in our national musical heritage,” Fettig said.

The Quad Cities’ connections to the Marine Band include Moline native Beth (McCafferty) Plunk, who is the current principal flute player, and Augustana’s Elizabeth (Gish) Matera, a former 23-year member of the band’s clarinet section. 

“I think my favorite part of the ceremony is playing ‘Hail to the Chief,’” Plunk (a 1997 Moline High alum) said in an interview the day of President Biden’s January 2021 inauguration.

Marine Band principal flutist Beth Plunk is a 1997 Moline High alumna.

“It’s when the president takes the oath of office. It’s the first time he hears it and I think it’s very special the Marine Band does that,” she said.

Accompanying Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem was a treat, she said.

“She was lovely, very appreciative,” Plunk said. “A very calm performer. She was absolutely lovely.”

Beth Plunk performing at President Biden’s 2021 inauguration ceremony.

“It’s definitely an honor to be part of the Marine Band,” the 18-year band veteran said in 2021. “There’s such history – even a day like today, we’ve been playing inaugurations for over 200 years,” she said. “It’s really awe-inspiring to think about.”

Best in the world

“‘The President’s Own’ U.S. Marine Band is, without question, the finest wind band in the country and, in my opinion, the world,” said Augustana Director of Bands James Lambrecht. “The musicianship and artistry on display are second to none and inspire music lovers, both young and old.”

Lambrecht said this marks the first time the band has performed on Augustana’s campus. 

“It is an incredible opportunity for the Augustana community to experience this world-class ensemble.”

John Williams conducts the United States Marine Band in a 225th anniversary concert at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Rachel Ghadiali).

North Scott High School Band Director Carl Collins said it is a privilege to be able to have the Marine Band in the QC.

 “They are some of the finest professional musicians in the world, and one of the most significant cultural institutions in our nation’s history,” he said. “Not only will those in attendance hear a concert they will never forget, the students who have the opportunity to work with the musicians in the masterclasses they offer while they are in town will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to work with these outstanding musicians up close.”

Collins said “The President’s Own” is a model for many school band programs, and directors everywhere use their recordings as examples for their students.

Col. James Colburn, the 27th band director, conducts the Marine Band in a 225th anniversary concert in North Bethesda, Md. (photo by Sgt. Chase Baran).

Since Sousa was first granted permission to tour the country by President Benjamin Harrison in 1891, “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band has delivered a White House experience from Washington, D.C., to the far-reaching corners of our nation. These special concerts have been shared by generations of Americans.

By the end of this year’s 31-day tour, the Marine Band will have covered more than 4,664 miles around the Midwest, performing in 29 cities in 11 states, with concerts in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

The Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. Founded in 1798, the band has performed for every U.S. president since John Adams. Known as “The President’s Own” since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the Marine Band’s mission is to provide music for the president of the United States and the commandant of the Marine Corps.