Oh Mr. Sousa! kicks off Celebrity Concert Series

ST. GEORGE –  A great musical biography celebrating John Philip Sousa, “The March King,”  is a full two-hour “staged band concert/show,” highlighting major historic and amusing events in the life of John Philip Sousa and featuring some of the world’s most beloved music. Marches! Waltzes! Ragtime! Comic opera! And much more! It features a 22-piece concert band, and 8 singing actors in 37 roles.

Oh Mr. Sousa! Is the first concert of the 2010-2011 season for Celebrity Concert Series and is scheduled for Friday-Saturday, October 15-16, 7:30 p.m. Oh Mr. Sousa! is conceived as a semi-staged concert as the band and music are the true stars of the evening. The show, a full 2-hour evening, is in two acts, featuring a 22-piece concert band and a cast of 8 singing actors. One male plays plays John Philip Sousa from ages 20-76; one female plays Jennie Sousa, 16-68; and the 6 other members of the cast play all other roles.

Paul Bierley, John Philip Sousa’s official biographer said, “Thank you for bringing Mr. Sousa ‘to life’ again.  The splendid reviews indicate he is still a wonderful entertainer more than seventy years after his death, thanks to your creative presentation of his life and music.”   “It will make a man with a wooden leg get and dance!”  Northwest Florida Daily News

Sousa began by taking violin lessons at age 10, and by the time he was 13 he could play numerous band instruments and already was conducting his own seven-piece orchestra. That same year, his father, John Antonio Sousa, himself a musician and concert trombonist, enlisted him in the United States Marine Corps Band as an apprentice to prevent the young musician from running away to join a circus band.

Sousa’s first composition, “Moonlight on the Potomac Waltzes,” was published in 1872. “El Capitan,” the most popular of his comic operettas, composed in 1895, ran for more than four years and became a hit in Europe and Canada. His other operettas fared less well, and he eventually turned his attention to his band, for which he composed 136 marches. Because of his success in that area, he is known as “The March King.”

He assumed leadership of the U.S. Marine Band in 1880. During his 12 years in the White House as leader of the Marine Band, Sousa served under five presidents – Rutherford B. Hayes,  James A. Garfield, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison.

At the peak of his popularity, he was playing to crowds in excess of 150,000 and constantly touring, both nationally and internationally. He literally conducted until the very last day of his life, at age 77. The last piece conducted under his baton was his own beloved “Stars and Stripes Forever,” which in 1987 became designated as the official national march of the United States.

Tickets are $20 adults and available at Dixie State College ticket office 435.652.7800 or on line at  tickets.dixie.edu.   For more information on this concert or other Celebrity Concert Series events please call 435.652.7994 or write [email protected] or visit us on line at www.dixie.edu/concerts.

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