U.S. Band Director Returns to Crane School of Music


U.S. Marine Band Director Colonel Michael J. Colburn will guest conduct a concert at The Crane School of Music and receive Honorary Lifetime Membership from SUNY Potsdam’s Alumni Association this weekend.

U.S. Marine Band Director Michael J. Colburn will return to SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music this weekend to conduct a concert and receive a significant award.

The SUNY Potsdam Alumni Association will present Colonel Colburn with Honorary Lifetime Membership in a gala reception and awards ceremony, during the College’s 2012 Reunion Weekend festivities.

In addition, the commanding officer of “The President’s Own” will guest conduct a concert featuring the Crane Youth Music Wind Ensemble at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 14 in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall.

Colburn will work with the select high school student group attending the 39th annual Crane Youth Music camp for young musicians at The Crane School of Music. Concert works will include John Philip Sousa’s “George Washington Bicentennial March.”

This event is free, and all are welcome to attend.

The Honorary Lifetime Membership Award is presented to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the alumni association and/or the College. While Col. Colburn did not graduate from SUNY Potsdam, he did attend The Crane School of Music during his freshman and sophomore years of college.

“I had a great experience at the School and I’m looking forward to going back,” said Col. Colburn.

As director of the U.S. Marine Band, known as “The President’s Own,” and the Marine Chamber Orchestra, Colburn serves as music advisor to the White House and music director of Washington’s Gridiron Club. As both artistic and executive director for the performing group, Colburn conducts the Marine Band regularly at the White House and at all Presidential Inaugurations.

Col. Colburn is the 27th director of the Marine Band, now in its third century. During his 24 years with “The President’s Own,” Col Colburn has served as principal euphonium, assistant director, and since July 2004, the director.

As director of “The President’s Own,” Col. Colburn is music adviser to the White House. He regularly conducts the Marine Band at the Executive Mansion and at all Presidential Inaugurations. He also serves as music director of Washington, D.C.’s prestigious Gridiron Club, a position held by every Marine Band director since John Philip Sousa. He also oversees the band’s concert season, summer season, concert tours and international clinics and conferences. Colburn is a member of the Alfalfa Club and the American Bandmasters Association.

After joining “The President’s Own” in May 1987 as a euphonium player, Col. Colburn regularly performed at the White House, in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area, and throughout the country during the band’s annual concert tour. He quickly distinguished himself as a featured soloist, and in 1990 was appointed principal euphonium. In addition to his euphonium duties, Col. Colburn was active as a conductor for “The President’s Own” chamber music series. In 1996, he was appointed assistant director and commissioned as First Lieutenant. He accepted the position of senior assistant director and executive officer in 2001, and in 2002 was promoted to the rank of Major. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel one day before he assumed leadership of “The President’s Own” on July 17, 2004. He was promoted to Colonel on July 3, 2007 by President George W. Bush, in an Oval Office ceremony and awarded the Legion of Merit on July 11, 2008, the Marine Band’s 210th birthday, by Marine Corps Commandant General James T. Conway.

As director, Colburn has welcomed prominent guest conductors to the podium of “The President’s Own,” including Leonard Slatkin, José Serebrier, Gerard Schwarz and renowned film composer John Williams. Col. Colburn is deeply committed to seeking new works for the Marine Band, and has been directly involved in commissions from composers David Rakowski, David Chaitkin, Melinda Wagner, Jennifer Higdon, Michael Gandolfi and Laurence Bitensky. Col. Colburn has worked to expand the Marine Band’s educational outreach efforts by increasing master classes at schools throughout the nation during the band’s annual concert tour, and by initiating Music in the High Schools, a program that sends musicians from “The President’s Own” to perform in Washington, D.C., area districts.

Col. Colburn is a native of St. Albans, Vt., where he graduated from Bellows Free Academy in 1982. Following high school, he attended The Crane School of Music at The State University of New York in Potsdam for two years. He continued his education at Arizona State University in Tempe, where he studied euphonium with Daniel Perantoni and earned a bachelor’s degree in music performance in 1986. In 1991, Colburn earned a master’s degree in conducting from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., where he studied with Anthony Maiello.

To learn more about the U.S. Marine Band, visit www.marineband.usmc.mil.

For more information about Reunion Weekend at SUNY Potsdam, visit www.potsdam.edu/alumni/connecting/reunion.

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution, and is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2011-12.