June 24, 2016

Marine Band to debut SIU composer’s work

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. – “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band will debut a composition from a Southern Illinois University Carbondale composer as part of its summer series Wednesday and Thursday, June 29-30, on the U. S. Capitol’s West Terrace. 

Eric Mandat, professor of clarinet and composition and SIU Distinguished Scholar, will have his composition “Parallel Histories: An Excursion” played for the first time anywhere in the world during the U.S. Marine Band concert. 

The composition calls for two soloists, and Mandat knew which two he had in mind: Master Sgt. Jihoon Chang and Master Gunnery Sgt. Jay Niepotter. Chang hails from Granite City and Niepotter is originally from Centralia. Both men attended SIU Band Camp in 1983, where they met and got to know Mandat, then a not-quite-new member of the School of Music faculty. 

“I worked with them then, and we have remained close friends for these many years,” Mandat said. 

Chang and Niepotter both went to different universities after band camp, but they rekindled their friendship after both auditioned for and were accepted by “The President’s Own” U. S. Marine Band. Now they are both nearing retirement. Niepotter asked Mandat if he would write a piece for the Marine Band featuring two clarinets. 

“Parallel Histories” is that work. Not only does it honor Mandat’s two band camp alumni friends, it also explores the parallel histories of the personal struggles of individual people that are part of our development as a nation. According to the program notes, the “mixture of these experiences is one of life’s rich rewards, and this piece reflects on that gift.” 

Mandat described the work as an optimistic proclamation of hope derived from working and sharing in community. 

The U.S. Marine Band is the only musical unit with the title “The President’s Own” and to bear the mission to provide music for the President of the United States and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The Marine Band has performed for every Presidential inauguration since that of Thomas Jefferson in 1801. They also perform at state funerals, full honors funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, and other events.