‘I am so greatly honored’ Downers Grove North graduate to perform at inauguration with U.S. Marine Band

Kristin Bowers began her musical training on clarinet when she was 10 years old. At Downers Grove North, she was a member of the school’s musical program.

She takes center stage on a national platform Wednesday.

Staff Sergeant Bowers, a 2002 Downers Grove North graduate and a member of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, will perform at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration in Washington D.C.

The Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. Founded in 1798, the band has performed for every U.S. President since John Adams.

“There’s nothing quite like performing for the inauguration of a President,” Bowers told Downers Grove North Fine Arts Department Chairperson Brayer Teague in a recent interview. “I am so greatly honored to be one of the few who will witness this historical event in person.”

Bowers has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in clarinet performance. She served as principal clarinet in the United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C. before joining “The President’s Own” band. In 2018 Bowers was honored with Downers Grove North’s “Alumni Award of Excellence.”

“We are incredibly proud of Kristin, and her service to our country,” Teague said. “She was an exceptionally gifted musician as a student at North High and member of our District 99 Honors Band. It will be very exciting to tune in on Wednesday and see her performing with the finest musicians in our nation.”

Bowers first participated in inaugural events in 2013 as a member of the United States Air Force Band. She marched in the inaugural parade for the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

“I also had the privilege of performing at an inaugural ball that night, and vividly remember being just feet away from Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys,” Bowers said.

Bowers did not participate in the 2017 inauguration, watching from home as she took care of her infant daughter.

Bowers noted that many of the President’s Own band’s most important performances happen inside the White House. The Marine Band also performs full honors funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, honoring the deceased service men and women of the United States Marine Corps.”

“Whether it is a state dinner, bill signing, important speech or reception – the Marine Band is there,” Bowers said. “The President’s Own takes great pride in presenting free concerts to the public throughout the D.C. area and across the country. Some of our most rewarding work is participating in educational outreach programs which provide us the opportunity to connect with music students of all ages.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the traditional ways that musicians come together and rehearse. Bowers said that all members of the band were tested for COVID-19 before rehearsals began. Band members have subsequently been tested twice for entrance into the inauguration dress rehearsal and main event.

Chairs are placed in a socially distanced setup, and most directional instruments have plexiglass between rows. The band rehearses for only 40 minutes before taking a break to allow aerosols to disperse.

“Honestly, it has been wonderful and somewhat surreal to be rehearsing as a large band for this event,” Bowers said.

Joshua Welge

I am the Sports Editor for Kendall County Newspapers, the Kane County Chronicle and Suburban Life Media, covering primarily sports in Kendall, Kane, DuPage and western Cook counties. I've been covering high school sports for 24 years. I also assist with our news coverage.