Director of US Marine Band to join music faculty in 2014

The next director of bands at Butler University will be Colonel Michael J. Colburn, currently the director of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band.

Administrators and faculty in the school of music announced the decision to members of the wind ensemble late last semester, but Colburn asked that no official announcements be made until after the Presidential Inauguration.

Robert Grechesky, Butler’s current director of bands, will continue serving until his retirement following the 2013-2014 school year.

Colburn is a highly-respected member of the American band community, and his duties involve programming and presenting performances in the White House and at events both nationally and internationally.

The school of music twice invited Colburn to work with the wind ensemble over the past two years, including once last semester.

He led a rehearsal and spoke to students about the history of the Marine Band and the literature the band was working on.

Luke Patterson is a freshman composition major who worked with Colburn last semester as a member of the wind ensemble.

“When Colburn came, I didn’t know who he was,” Patterson said. “But the way he directed the band, everything he knew and the way he brought the piece alive, he was remarkably vibrant and efficient.”

Patterson said he hopes Colburn continues programming concerts with a balance of traditional and contemporary pieces, as Grechesky currently does.

According to the Marine Band’s website, Colburn joined the group in 1987 as a euphonium player. Three years later, he was promoted to principal euphonium.

He continued advancing in rank and took on more responsibilities over the next 14 years.

In 2004, he was appointed the 27th director of the premiere band in America, a post that was once held by John Philip Sousa.

According to  school of music faculty, Colburn entertained job offers from other universities across the United States but chose to come to Butler after he retires from the Marine Band.

It is unusual for a position like this to be filled so early. Usually, a search committee would begin interviewing candidates much closer to the time of appointment.

Daniel Bolin, chair of the school of music, said Colburn was selected for a number of reasons.

“He directs the most famous wind band in the world, and obviously there is a lot of prestige in having someone who has his background,” Bolin said.

He also cited Colburn’s knowledge of wind band repertoire and history as an important quality in a band director.

“The contacts that Colburn has with the wind band world are probably second to none,” Bolin continued. “The director of the Marine Band is known far and wide.”

Bolin likened hiring Colburn to hiring the best coach in a certain sport as a head coach at Butler.

Look for an in-depth interview with Colburn in an upcoming issue of The Collegian.


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