Mark Hayward's City Matters: Central buddies play on
Marine Band Assistant Director Maj. Jason K. Fettig conducts the Marine Chamber Orchestra at Northern Virginia Community College. He is being promoted to lieutenant colonel and director of the U.S. Marine Band.
Master Gunnery Sgt. William Kanteres, left, is headed to his next Marine assignment — as senior adviser to enlisted Marines enrolled to the Naval School of Music in Virginia Beach. COURTESY PHOTOS
Jason Fettig and William Kanteres drove together to and from band rehearsals. They played alongside one another in the high school band as well as gigs outside of school. They shared a tent at the Boy Scout band camp.
Like most high school boys, a competitive spirit laced their friendship. Both tried out for drum major at Central. The position goes to only a chosen few, who lead the band at football games and downtown parades. Fettig nabbed the open slot.
Today, Fettig gets promoted to lieutenant colonel. It’s a prelude to an even bigger promotion that comes July 12, when he becomes director of the U.S. Marine Band, which is nicknamed “The President’s Own.”
“I like to think it’s something in the water in New Hampshire,” Fettig said. “Talent and the drive to succeed brought us together.”
Their competitive nature has matured into one of reciprocal admiration.
Fettig noted that Kanteres entered the Marines fresh out of Central. He was recently promoted to master gunnery sergeant, the highest rank an enlisted person can earn in the Marines. Kanteres saw combat. And he looks like a Marine — no longer the long-haired, skinny band kid from Central, Fettig said.
David Bresnahan, the Central band teacher who taught the two, said both were talented, especially Fettig. But one needs more than talent to go as far as Fettig, Bresnahan said. A music director at that level needs a thorough understanding of music and all instruments, luck and an ability to schmooze.
Fettig has been with the Marine Band through three Presidents. Bill Clinton would recognize pieces from his days as a high school saxophonist, Fettig said. George W. Bush liked country and classical music, and once directed the band. Barack Obama prefers jazz and classical, with a special liking for Stevie Wonder.
And why not?
His life — at Central, in the Marines, with Kanteres — is like a pleasing symphonic composition. A theme develops, it expands, it alters but never changes completely. In the end, it’s just two high school buddies, their instruments at their sides, out to make their way in the world.
Mark Hayward’s City Matters appears Thursdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader and UnionLeader.com. He wishes all his readers a happy Independence Day.
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