Music Celebrations International is pleased to present the Sousa Band Festival, an exclusive event that will take place on Saturday and Sunday, April 2-3, 2016, at the Concert Hall of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Four select concert bands will be featured in performance at this historic concert venue.
The program will emphasize the life and influence of John Philip Sousa, “The March King,” on the American Band movement. Participating bands will have the opportunity to visit important Sousa sites in Washington, D.C., including Historic Congressional Cemetery, where he was laid to rest.
Each band will also take part in a clinic with the renowned Colonel Arnald D. Gabriel, retired conductor of the United States Air Force Band.
Sousa began his musical career at age 6, when he first learned the violin. When the young Sousa turned 13, his father, a trombonist in the United States Marine Band, enlisted his son in the Marine Corps as an apprentice. Sousa served his apprenticeship for seven years, until 1875, and learned to play all the wind instruments while honing his mettle with the violin. Several years later, Sousa left his apprenticeship to join a theater orchestra where he learned to conduct.
Founded in 1798, the oldest professional music organization in the United States is the United States Marine Band. For all its rich history and traditions, it is probably best known as being led by Sousa from 1880 to 1892. These years started a very long and prolific period of march composition for Sousa, including legendary marches that are still performed today – The Washington Post, The Gladiator, and of course, The Stars and Stripes Forever. Semper Fidelis, in addition to being the motto of the United States Marine Corps, is also the title of the official march of the Corps, composed by Sousa in 1889.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a world-renowned arts complex on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. It opened in 1971 as a living memorial to the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Designed by architect Edward Durrell Stone, it was built by Philadelphia contractor John McShain and is administered by a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution. It is often referred to as the “National Center for the Performing Arts,” serving as the home of the National Symphony, Washington Ballet, Washington National Opera, and the Washington Performing Arts Society. Thousands of art performances are given annually on the various stages and theaters that exist within the structure.
Col. Arnald D. Gabriel retired from the United States Air Force in 1985 following a distinguished 36
year military career, at which time he was awarded his third Legion of Merit for his service to the United States Air Force and to music education throughout the country.
He served as Commander/Conductor of the internationally renowned U.S. Air Force Band, Symphony Orchestra, and Singing Sergeants from 1964 to 1985. In 1990, he was named the first Conductor Emeritus of the USAF Band at a special concert held at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
A combat machine gunner with the United States Army’s famed 29th Infantry Division in Europe during WW II, Gabriel received two awards of the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the French Croix de Guerre.
Col. Gabriel served on the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, from 1985 to 1995, as Conductor of the GMU Symphony Orchestra and as Chairman, Department of Music for eight of those years. In recognition of his ten years service to the university, he was named Professor Emeritus of Music.
Col. Gabriel’s professional honors include the very first Citation of Excellence awarded by the National Band Association, the Mid-West National Band and Orchestra Clinic’s Gold Medal of Honor and its Distinguished Service to Music Award, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia’s New Millennium Lifetime Achievement Award and its rarely presented National Citation for “significant contributions to music in America,” Kappa Kappa Psi’s Distinguished Service to Music Award, Phi Beta Mu’s Outstanding Contribution to Bands Award, and the St. Cecilia Award from the University of Notre Dame. Col. Gabriel was inducted into the National Band Association Hall of Fame of Distinguished Band Conductors, becoming the youngest person ever to have received this honor, and was an inaugural inductee to the Distinguished Alumni Wall of Fame of Cortland High School in Cortland, New York. He is also a Past President of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association.