Anyone who's watched a presidential inauguration knows the United States Marine Band provides a certain pomp to the celebration. And it's a Woodland Hills man who provides for the band.
Gunnery Sgt. Richard Dickerson, a 1992 El Camino Real High School graduate, serves as a stage manager for the band.
As such, he helps prepare for the band's performances by loading and transporting musical instruments and equipment, setting the stage for performances locally and on tour, managing the stage crew, and maintaining the band facilities. He also provides logistical support and responds to any emergencies or malfunctions that relate to the band’s setup and equipment.
It's a role he found he enjoyed while studying music at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. He attended the school after his first enlistment in the Marine Corps, which he began in 1992, serving with the Third Marine Aircraft Wing Band in El Toro.
After earning a Bachelor of Music degree in French horn performance in 2000, he stayed on at the school working as a state crew member and stage manager and then served as assistant stage manager for the Balitimore Opera Company until 2004.
Dickerson said he likes getting to be behind the scenes and seeing everything that goes on back stage.
"You don't get the rush of performing," he said, "but you get the pride that your band or whoever you're stage managing for has performed well."
It was while working with the opera company that Dickerson learned that the Marine Band, also known as "The President's Own," was looking for someone to serve as a stage manager. He applied and the rest, as they say, is history.
Now, Gunnery Sgt. Dickerson is helping make history. Today's is the second inauguration he's been with the band, setting up the swearing-in ceremony on the platform just below the president.
Not only does the band provide music for the inauguration ceremony, but it also leads the second division of the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and performs at various inaugural balls throughout the capital.
As full of pomp and import as all that is, they're not Dickerson's favorite gigs. He said he most enjoys the children's concerts the band performs annually.
"We get creative and it's engaging for the children. It's always fun," he said.
But he doesn't discount the import of performing for the world as the president of the United States is sworn in.
"When you stop a second and thing about the scope of what you're doing," he said, "it kind of overwhelms you."