Students, teachers and administrators alike gathered in the theater on Wednesday to give a warm welcome to a very special group: the US Marine Corps Marching Band.
The band, on their way back to their home base in New Orleans, Louisiana, gave the school a most impressive performance involving the entirety of the band, as well as a couple small-group performances by sectors within the band, including the Woodwind and Brass Band Quintets. They played a mixture of traditional and ceremonial marching band songs, as well as renditions of songs by popular bands such as Queen and Journey. Recognizing popular tunes, the crowd went wild.
The excitement reached a climax during the Jazz Combo performance when, all at once, the theater went dark in a blackout that covered the entire surrounding area of Littleton. For a moment, the entire LHS theater was pitch black, but that did not stop the band from continuing to jam.
“We are here to do a job, we are musicians…and the show must go on!” said Gunnery Sergeant Justin Hauser, who was conducting the band.
The blackout came near the end of the show. The ensemble continued to play on through the darkness, with only the emergency lights over the audience to light their music.
They rarely perform for high schoolers, but when they do, the band loves to put on a show. They balance their musical acts with informative talk bits about the Marine Corp, answering questions from students and talking about the numerous opportunities for high schoolers to get involved with the marines.
“Performing for high schools is a lot of fun because you get to reach out to people, and people have questions all the time. It’s really great to come to the high schools and share our experiences and tell people, ‘Hey, this is what we do. This is our job. We go around playing music all day,’” said Platoon Sergeant Victor Danish.
The band was led by Gunnery Sergeant Justin Hauser. In between songs, he frequently cracked jokes to the audience and band members, who reciprocated with light humor onstage. The band is constantly working, but they do have fun, too.
“It’s a full time commitment for four years, the length of a contract. When we aren’t doing computer type stuff when we’re at work, there is always a horn in your face or sticks in your hand,” said Hauser.
Energy was high in the audience as well, with almost a full house.
“For me, it’s one of my joys. I used to teach before I came into the Marine Corp, and I always loved seeing young musicians hearing what a band can actually do, and inspiring those musicians to maybe practice a little more, or just listen to a different kind of music. That’s the kind of stuff that brings out the joy for me,” said Hauser about performing for high school students.
They talked career opportunities, risks and rewards, and answered all sorts of questions from the audience at the end of the performance.
“I hope [the high schoolers] can gain a better understanding of career opportunities that you can have in the military, or just the fact that there is a presence there and it is a good choice for some people. I went to college for three years and then joined the military, and I would not trade it for the world. I love it,” said Danish.
This particular sector of the Marine Corps band is based out of New Orleans, but they travel frequently both domestically and internationally, performing approximately 500 events every year between the different sectors of the band. These events include funerals, state arrival ceremonies, state dinners, concerts, parades and other special events, including the Presidential Inauguration.
Often dubbed “The President’s Own”, the band has been present at every single Presidential Inauguration since Thomas Jefferson’s in 1801, including today’s inauguration of Donald Trump. Traditionally, the band is stationed at the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony before a 99-piece band marches back to the White House in the inaugural parade.
“It is a very rare and special occasion to have such esteemed guests on our stage, “ said principal Amy Oaks.
“I just hoped that [students] would enjoy a wonderful, high-quality musical performance,” said Hauser.
However, not only students enjoyed the show. The event was also attended by both school and district administration. Everyone cheered and applauded loudly, but the standing ovation given to the band by the audience said it all.