Marines are musicians, too; Marine Corps Band plays Voxman

The Marine Corps Band of San Diego performed concert pieces at Voxman Monday night in a Midwestern tour and encouraged prospective members to consider joining the Corps as band members.


Ryan Adams

Warrant Officer Alex Panos conducts the band during the concert featuring the Marine Core Band concert at Voxman Music Building on Monday, April 15, 2019.

Haley Triem, Arts Reporter

A man stands in front of a concert band, bending and swaying in rhythm as his fingers fly over his clarinet in a complex solo. The notes are clear and impeccable, despite how swiftly they come from the instrument. The piece is called “Solo de Concours,” by André Messager, a recital piece that is meant to show off the talent of a truly skilled clarinet player.

Cpl. Michael Hong plays the lead solo while dressed sharply in uniform, punctuating the symphony behind him created by his fellow Marine Corps members.

On Monday at 7:30 p.m., Marine Corps Band of San Diego performed at Voxman, the latest concert in its string of performances across the Midwest.

“We are touring the 9th Marine Corps District, which is mostly the Midwest,” said Warrant Officer Alex Panos, the band officer and conductor. “We are here to raise awareness that there is a Marine band, and we are also here to help out the local recruiting stations. We are trying to find talented college and high-school students who are interested in joining.”

The career opportunities offered to musically talented individuals are ones other musicians may not experience should they not join the Marine Corps. The Corps seeks to provide an option to those both interested in military enrollment as well as musical artistry.

“Making a career out of music is very difficult, as any music major knows,” Panos said. “We are here to give people the Marine Corps option. That is, to let them know the Marine music program is always there for them. The Department of Defense is the No. 1 employer of musicians in the U.S.”

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That said, the musicians are more than simply musicians —they, like all other members of the Marine Corps, have completed rigorous training and specialization. Many agree that the hard work is worth it, however.

“Every one of these Marines on this stage have been through boot camp, Marine combat training, and the Naval School of Music, where you learn things like marching drill and ceremonial sequences,” Panos said. “Aside from offering a salary and medical benefits for your family, we offer the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with being in the Marine Corps.”

The members’ national pride in the Corps was clearly shown in the concert — the group played such pieces as the national anthem, as well as “Taps” during after a moment of silence for fallen troops.

“The Marine Band San Diego is touring around the Midwest,” said Hong, who soloed on clarinet. “We’re doing that mainly to showcase and perform the Marine music. For a lot of the people, they don’t really know that Marines play music; it’s for us to be out there and say ‘Hey, we perform as well.’ ”

For many, the Marine Band is a way to continue their passion for music while still remaining involved in the military.

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“I got involved in this because a friend of mine joined, and I followed him to do music,” Hong said. “We both love music, and didn’t know that this was an option, and heard about the auditions and decided to participate.”

Toward the end of the concert, the band performed a medley of the five U.S. service-branch songs (the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps). During the medley, both veterans and current members of each branch stood for their branch’s song, as members of the audience applauded them for their service.

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