Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Band in a 2010 Idyllwild performance. File Photo
Always a highpoint of the Idyllwild Summer Concert Series (ISCS), the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Band stationed at 29 Palms returns as the closing act for the 12th season, on Thursday, Aug. 18. The 51-member band has been such a popular part of Ken Dahleen’s series that its annual appearance is almost synonymous with the series itself and the approaching end of summer.

As is traditional with the Marine Band season finale, there will be no opening act. Downbeat is at 7:00 p.m.

Music and the Marine Corps are linked from the time of the founding of the republic. President John Adams established the U.S. Marine band on July 11, 1798, by executive order. It is the oldest professional musical organization in the country. The Marine Band is known as “The President’s Own” because of its historic connection with the President, playing at inaugurations and state functions. It is separate from the 12 current Marine Corps field bands, of which the Air Ground Combat Center Band is one, that are based and perform regionally.

Leading the Combat Center Band for the first time in Idyllwild will be Erie, Pa. native Staff Sgt. Christi Espinoza. She plans a potpourri of wind ensemble favorites including a parade of marches, some of which “The March King,” John Philip Sousa, the Marine Band’s most famous conductor, wrote. The Combat Center Band is a professional concert wind ensemble that brings the highest musical standards to its performances. Members are often music school graduates prior to entering the Corps.

All members of the band go through basic training, just as does every other Marine, and all men and women in the band are trained Marine riflemen.

Bring your chairs, retire your dancing shoes and look forward to a world-class concert by professional musicians who happen to be part of a long and distinguished tradition — the few, the proud, the United States Marines.

As of Monday, Aug. 8, producer Ken Dahleen and board have raised $17,200 of their $19,500 budget, leaving $2,300 needed to break even. With nightly contributions averaging between $600 and $800, and only two concerts left, it looks as if the series may come up short this year.