The Marine Band’s New Music Corner in Web Exclusives will feature Michael Daugherty’s inventive homage to the legendary conductor Leopold Stowkowski, Bells for Stokowski. It was performed by the Marine Band and guest conducted by Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero on March 31, 2014, at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall at the Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria. While Stokowski was known for his daring programing and for techniques that made the Philadelphia Orchestra famous for sounding like a pipe organ, he was also a devoted proponent of band music, which gave rise to his own Philadelphia Band. The entire brass section and other wind players from the Philadelphia Orchestra made up a 120 piece ensemble, known as the Band of Gold due to the gold uniforms the musicians wore. They performed original works for band and Stokowski’s now-famous arrangements of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Daugherty’s tribute, however, is uniquely relevant in this setting; he states that the conductor was so controversial that early in his career he “was fired from his organ post at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York in 1908, after he concluded a service with ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever.’” Daugherty goes on to say that in the piece he imagines the conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra “visiting the Liberty Bell at sunrise, and listening to all the bells of the city resonate.”
Daugherty, whose previous collaborations with Guerrero resulted in three Grammy awards, is no stranger to “The President’s Own.” The band has performed his works Niagara Falls, Brooklyn Bridge, Raise the Roof, and Walk the Walk in previous concerts, and chamber groups have performed “Lex” from Metropolis Symphony and Motown Metal. “It is always a thrill to hear my music performed. But hearing the Marine Band perform takes it to another level!” Daugherty said. “The performance of Bells for Stokowski was awesome! The impeccable playing and the incredible sound that the Marine Band made that evening was an experience I will never forget!”
The performance also affected him on a personal level. “My late father Willis Daugherty was a Marine and served during the Korean War as a sergeant,” Daugherty said. “When I was growing up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I remember in the 1960s when the Marine Band used to visit and perform a concert for all the kids at the public schools. So a performance by the Marine Band brings special meanings to me.”