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Monday, June 5, 2017

Free Bach Brandenburg concert, Wednesday, St. John's, Lafayette Square

Mary Bowden/Photo by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Classical trumpeter Mary Bowden will join the 20 members of the U.S. Air Force Strings Ensemble Wednesday to play Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in a free noontime concert at St. John's Episcopal Church at Lafayette Square.

Ms. Bowden, who has accompanied Adele on tour, began fulltime college music studies at the age of 14. Gramaphone has called her "brilliant" and “radiant in new repertoire for trumpet,” an adaptation of "radiant" which appears in the title of her recently released first album, "Radiance."  

A worldwide performer, Ms. Bowden has placed first in many competitions.
 The U.S. Air Force Strings Ensemble

Air Force Strings is one of six musical ensembles of the U.S. Air Force Band. The Strings' portfolio includes wide-ranging styles from classical to rock, bluegrass, Broadway, and patriotic selections, played without a conductor. 

Also on Wednesday's program is "Serenade for String" by George Antheil (1900-1959), an avante-garde composer and inventor (Wikipedia).

The concert is the last of this year's First Wednesday Concerts series at St. John's.
St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C./Photo by Patricia Leslie

St. John's was founded in 1815 and is known to Washington residents as the yellow church at Lafayette Square. It's often called the “Church of the Presidents” since beginning with President James Madison, who was president from 1809 to 1817, every president has attended services at the church

A plaque at the rear of St. John's designates the pew where President Abraham Lincoln often sat when he stopped by the church during the Civil War. 

Benjamin Latrobe, the "father of American architecture" who designed the U.S. Capitol and the White House porticos, created the plan for St. John's Church using a Greek cross.  

The church bell, which weighs almost 1,000 pounds, was cast by Paul Revere's son, Joseph, in 1822 and hung at the church that year where it has rung since. Wikipedia says two accounts report that whenever the bell rings on the occasion of the death of a notable person, six male ghosts appear at the president's pew at midnight and quickly disappear. (Who's counting?) 

Dolley Madison, wife of President Madison, was baptized and confirmed at St. John's which is "one of the few original remaining buildings left near Lafayette Park today,"
according to the National Park Service.

Following tradition, President Donald J. Trump and his family began his presidency on the morning of January 20, 2017 with private services at St. John's.

For those on lunch break, food trucks are located nearby at Farragut Square.


Another concert not to miss!
Who:  Mary Bowden and the U.S. Air Force Strings presenting Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 and Antheil's "Serenade for Strings"

First Wednesday Concerts

When: 12:10 p.m., June 7, 2017

St. John’s, Lafayette Square, 1525 H Street, NW, at the corner of 16th, Washington, D.C. 20005

How much: No charge

Duration: About 35 minutes

Wheelchair accessible

Metro stations: McPherson Square (White House exit), Farragut North, or Farragut West

For more information: Contact Michael Lodico, St. John's director of music ministry and organist, 202-270-6265 or

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