Dr. Rebecca Phillips, Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Colorado State University, grew up in Washington D.C., attending many military band concerts. Phillip’s father and grandfather were trombonists in the U.S. Navy Band, which instilled in her a natural reverence for military band traditions. Phillips was incredibly honored when Col. Jason K. Fettig, music adviser to the President and the 28th director of the band, called and asked her to be a guest conductor of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band.Phillips, whose specialty is in Modern and Historical Band Music, especially marches, described the opportunity as “rare and very cool.”
The concert took place at the American Bandmasters Association 87th Annual Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana Friday, March 4th, 2022, in Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University.
Phillips, President of the the National Band Association, described the program as two hours “full of tradition.” “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization.
Excited to share historical details about the band, Phillip’s knowledge is impressive. “The President’s Own U.S. Marine Band is the band that played at the 1801 opening of The White House,” Phillips said, “and no one plays a march like they do.” When Col. Jason K. Fettig, invited Phillips to guest conduct, he asked her which J.P. Sousa she would choose. “The March King,” John Philip Sousa, is best known for the National March of the United States of America, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Phillips chose “The New York Hippodrome” because she wanted something the audience would like and the band would enjoy playing. “The piece has musical elements describing New York City around the turn of the century,” Phillips said. “Musically, it contains a quality of community.”
Given the unique opportunity, Phillips ultimately wanted to build the trust necessary to create the kind of collaboration conducting such an impressive band provides. There is a hyper-awareness she describes to knowing you are standing in front of the most famous military band in the world. Her nerves were soon assuaged. “They were delightful, professional, and extremely responsive,” Phillips said.
Phillips, who doesn’t rest long on her recent honors, has been invited by Col. Don Schofield, commander and conductor of The United States Air Force Band, to be a mentor for a young conductor in the June 2022 Young Composer/Conductor Mentor Project.
Passing down the traditions that have been a staple of her life to the next generation runs in Phillip’s blood. The School of Music, Theatre, and Dance is proud Dr. Philips has broadened her legacy to include the next generation, where she shares her knowledge of such historical traditions with Colorado State University music students.