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Band students everywhere, listen up! During Columbus Day weekend you will have the opportunity to hear the most talented Marine Band in the nation. "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band will be performing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Shea's Performing Arts Center.

The band, led by Col. Michael J. Colburn, will be performing both traditional repertoire and instrumental solos that showcase the talent of its professional musicians. Better yet, the performance is free and open to the public. While tickets are available at Shea's box office and will guarantee first choice of seating, no ticket is required to attend.

The band includes two of Buffalo's own, clarinetist Samantha Angelo, who graduated from Amherst Central High School, and percussionist Jonathan Bisesi, a graduate of Orchard Park High School. They are just two of the approximately 130 musicians who tour the nation. All of these musicians are official members of the U.S. Marine Corps.

The tradition of touring originated in 1891 with the band's 17th director, John Philip Sousa, a name that will almost certainly be familiar to anyone who has ever participated in a marching band. Sousa, known as "The March King," is perhaps most notably the composer of "Stars and Stripes Forever," the national march of the United States. He is widely considered to be the most famous conductor the band has ever had.

"It is always encouraging to hear a high-level band play, because it gives me something to look forward to and a goal to set," says Hailey Lawrenson, a sophomore at Williamsville South High School and an active participant in its band program.

The Marine Band is a great option for young musicians looking to get ahead in the world of professional instrumental performance. Even for musicians who are not planning to spend their entire career as a Marine Band performer, the experience of playing with a professional group can be very rewarding. The four-year commitment one must make when joining a band like "The President's Own" can be used as a springboard for a career in music.

Even for young musicians who aren't planning to join a professional band, seeing such a large, talented group of musicians play can be an inspiring experience. Many students may not see the appeal of sitting through a lengthy performance, but the sheer power of more than 100 musicians playing in an acoustically superior theater like Shea's is enough to blow anyone away.

Nora Wolcott is a sophomore at Williamsville South High School.