Military bands perform at parades, presidential inaugurations, state funerals and a variety of other events and ceremonies across the nation. They honor those who have served our country and inspire American citizens to heightened patriotism and service. Many of our armed forces’ “elite” musical units are based in the D.C. metro area, where you can see a high-quality, family-oriented performance on virtually any day during the summer months. Best of all, they are free.
The U.S. Navy’s Concerts on the Avenue Series, presented on select Tuesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at the U.S. Navy Memorial, held the first of five scheduled summer concerts on June 13. Each year, the concert highlights naval history and heritage, honors our fleet and pays tribute to our nation’s veterans. This family-friendly series features the U.S. Navy Band and Sea Chanters chorus performing a variety of musical genres, including current radio hits and iconic American music as well as patriotic standards.
Beginning with the presentation of the state and territorial flags of the United States by the Navy Ceremonial Guard, the Navy Drill Team executes their flawless demonstration of close-order drill, coordination and timing. These sailors carry 1903 Springfield rifles, all with 10-inch fixed bayonets. The remaining Concerts on the Avenue at the U.S. Navy Memorial are scheduled for June 20, June 27, July 25 and Aug. 1. On most of remaining Tuesday evenings, you can see separate performances by the U.S. Navy Concert Band, Country Current or Commodores. The United States Navy Memorial is located on Pennsylvania Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets NW.
The U.S. Capitol West Front steps (National Mall side) will be the venue for the 2017 Military Bands Summer Concert Series. Concerts start at 8:00 p.m. There will be performances by the U.S. Navy Band (Mondays), U.S. Air Force Band (Tuesdays), U.S. Marine Band (Wednesdays and Thursdays) and U.S. Army Band (Fridays).
The U.S. Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants also play Fridays at 7:30 p.m. at the Air Force Memorial and Saturdays at National Harbor Plaza in Maryland at 7 p.m.
The Marine Corps Sunset Parade at the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington features the music of “The Commandant’s Own,” the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, and precision drill by the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon on Tuesdays during the summer through Aug. 8. Start times are 7:00 p.m. through July and 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 1 and 8.
“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band Friday Evening Parade at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., starts at 8:45 p.m., beginning with a concert by the United States Marine Band. A one-hour-and-15-minute performance of music and precision marching, the Evening Parade also features “The Commandant’s Own,” the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, the Marine Corps Color Guard, the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, Ceremonial Marchers and Cpl. Chesty XIII, the official mascot of Marine Barracks Washington. Visit paraderes.dcmarines.com to make reservations for this event.
Twilight Tattoo is the United States Army’s outdoor ceremonial concert, held throughout the summer in the D.C. area. It is an hour-long military pageant that features the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the U.S. Army Drill Team, the U.S. Army Blues and members of the U.S. Army Band Downrange on Wednesdays through Aug. 9 (no performances on July 5 and 12). The performance starts at 7:00 p.m. (pre-ceremony pageantry begins at 6:30 p.m.) on Summerall Field at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia.
The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” will continue its annual tradition with the end-of-summer music spectacular: The 1812 Overture Concert at Summerall Field on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 8 p.m. In the event of inclement weather, the concert will be relocated across the street to Conmy Hall.
Don’t forget July 4 for a special performance by the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drums in front of the National Archives steps at 10:00 a.m. prior to the parade.
Other musical concerts will take place throughout the metro area this summer at the Sylvan Theater near the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian American History and Air & Space Museums and other local venues. For times and places, consult the various bands’ websites. Remember, outdoor concerts are all subject to weather cancellation.
View Jeff Malet’s photos from recent military band performances by clicking on the photo icons below.