Virgin Islands March
Year: 1919 /
Duration: c. 2:20
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: James Lamb
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $50.00; (digital) - $50.00 | Score Only (print) - $5.00
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
(percussion detail desired)
None discovered thus far.
The Virgin Islands March was written in 1919 and dedicated to Captain William Russell White as well as his wife, who had been instrumental in forming Adams’s navy band. In a 1985 interview, Adams said that the tune of the trio was inspired by an act of charity of Mrs. White who had given aid to an older Virgin Islands woman to feed her children. Inspired by the woman’s story and gratitude, the melody took shape in Adams’s mind. In October 1919, the score and parts were published in Jacobs’ Band Monthly and were sent to subscribers throughout the United States. (An orchestral arrangement appeared with the same publisher.) The march quickly became the signature work of Adams’s band. During the band’s 1924 tour, the work’s energy, color, and traditional Sousa-inspired sound helped advertise the islands as a fun, energetic tourist destination and a patriotic addition to U.S. territory. Just prior to the tour, Adams conducted the work with New York’s Goldman Band in that city’s Central Park and Adams’s band performed it across the eastern seaboard.
Reinterpreted within Virgin Islands culture, the piece asserts a cosmopolitan Virgin Island identity, one connected to the U.S. mainland and European traditions but one that resists a colonialist collapse and thus gives voice to local pride. While there is no native or folk music content in the piece, it was played often in local contexts, such as high school graduations and community concerts. In 1963, Adams rededicated the piece to the people of the Virgin Islands, a gift officially accepted by the Virgin Islands Legislature. As a result, Adams was appointed by then Governor Ralph Paiewonsky to head a committee to write words for the trio strain. Four verses were assembled from public contributions by two dozen Virgin Islanders the next year, thus making the anthem into a song of universal brotherhood and recalling the inter-racial charity of the trio strain’s inspiration. On June 2, 1982, sixty-five years to the day after Adams became a navy bandmaster, the Virgin Islands March was named the official territorial anthem of the United States Virgin Islands.
- Program Note by Mark Clague
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- Northshore Concert Band (Elgin, Ill.) (Mallory Thompson, conductor) - 17 October 2021
- SUNY Potsdam Crane Symphonic Band (Brian K. Doyle, conductor) - 6 October 2021
- Northshore Concert Band (Wilmette, Ill.) (Mallory Thompson, conductor) - 20 June 2021
Works for Winds by This Composer
- Blue Sunshine Waltz
- The Governor's Own March (ed. Clague) (1921/)
- The Governor's Own March (arr. Lamb) (1921/1993)
- The Spirit of the U.S.N. March (1925)
- Virgin Islands March (arr. Lamb) (1919/)
- Virgin Islands March (ed. Clague) (1919/2019)
- "Band Music by Alton Augustus Adams." Star Spangled Music. Web. Accessed 6 April 2022
- The Horizon Leans Forward..., compiled and edited by Erik Kar Jun Leung, GIA Publications, 2021, p. 235.