John Philip Sousa at Interlochen

Recently, my brass quintet did a performance at a senior center in honor of Veterans Day. We opened the concert with Under the Double Eagle, by J. F. Wagner. I explained that this march was a favorite of John Philip Sousa. We closed the performance with Semper Fidelis, by John Philip Sousa.

After the performance, one of the residents at the center came up and told an interesting story. I don’t know if it is true, but I thought it was a nice story.

The resident told us she was a violin student at Interlochen in 1930. Interlochen was founded only a few years earlier, and construction on the campus was not yet complete. In particular, one of the performance venues was going to have an organ, but it was not ready yet. John Philip Sousa visited Interlochen while she was there, and apparently he was distressed because there was no organ.

According to the story, Sousa put out a letter requesting saxophone players. The response was overwhelming, and 75 saxophonists came to Interlochen. They played for a grand concert with Sousa, and they sounded just like an organ!

  1. #1 by scout88 on November 30, 2007 - 11:56 pm

    thats really neat!

  2. #2 by Kathleen K. Perez on December 3, 2007 - 11:30 am


    John Philip Sousa conducted the National High School Band, and assisted by “Massed Bands from Northern Michigan” at 3:00pm on Sunday July 27th at the Interlochen Bowl. He conducted the following compositions; Washington Post, U.S. Field Artillery, Semper Fidelis, and The Stars and Stripes Forever.

    During the 7:00pm concert on Sunday July 27th, John Philip Sousa conducted the National High School Orchestra; Washington Post March, Welsh Fusilers, The Stars and Stripes Forever, Semper Fidelis and El Capitan.

    The “saxaphones as organ replacement” is a great story. If you can please let the senior resident know that I will include it in the Interlochen Center for the Arts archives.

    Kathleen Perez ICA archives

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