Butler bands director to guest conduct U.S. Marine Band

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Butler University Director of Bands Col. Michael Colburn will be returning to his roots.

Colburn served with the U.S. Marine Band, dubbed “The President’s Own,” for 27 years, including the last 10 as director.

“I’m looking forward to working with the group again,” Colburn said. “I’ve had a couple of chances to guest conduct them since I retired in 2014, but those opportunities don’t come very often, so this is really special. The chance to do that in our new home of Indianapolis is going to be a lot of fun.”

The U.S. Marine Band, which was formed in 1798, will perform a concert at 8 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. Tickets were free and all were distributed quickly.

“I’ve got a group of 40 or so students coming to the concert,” Colburn said.

Colburn played the euphonium for nine years and then was the assistant director for eight years.

“The current director, Jason Fettig, served as my assistant during my entire time as director, so we worked very closely together,” Colburn said. “So, I’ve been proud to see what he’s accomplished. Plus, I still know many of the players and ensemble as well. We stay in touch with one another. I’ve been watching what the band has been doing since retirement with great interest and enthusiasm.”

Colburn will conduct the band for a rendition of composer John Williams’ “The Adventures of Han” from the movie, “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

“Our relationship with Mr. Williams began when I was an assistant director and we were trying to find someone to come in and guest conduct for one of our major anniversaries,” Colburn said. “I invited him on behalf of the then-director. That started a relationship I’m very happy about.”

Colburn said Williams served as Marine Band guest conductor several times during Colburn’s tenure as director.

“He actually did write a piece for the band shortly before I retired, called ‘For the President’s Own,’” Colburn said. “I was really excited to have one of our most famous composers writing a piece for the Marine Band. I’ve done a lot of Mr. Williams’ music, as you might imagine, but I’ve never conducted this (piece) before since it was part of the soundtrack of the movie that came out this summer. I’m looking forward to learning the piece and taking it for a test ride with the Marine Band.”

Colburn said there are several differences. For instance, the average age of Marine Band members is approximately 35.

“The first thing I told the members of the Butler Wind Ensemble is I didn’t ever expect them to sound like the Marine Band. That wouldn’t really be a realistic expectation,” Colburn said. “I’ve enjoyed working with young members for many years. Even with my time with the Marine Band, I did a lot of guest conducting with high school and college ensembles. My father was a high school band director, so I’m no stranger to education. I was very excited in my post-Marine Band chapter of my career trying my hand at music education. While the students aren’t as advanced in their skills as the members of the Marine Band, their enthusiasm and excitement about what they are doing is really infectious, exposing them to these ideas and music I’ve known for many years as a professional musician. For them, it’s brand new and they’re excited about it. It’s been fun to watch them grow as musicians and watch the program continue to grow.”

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