BGSU alumnus Lt. Col. Ryan Nowlin becomes director of U.S. Marine Band

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – A Bowling Green State University alumnus and world-renowned musician has added another accolade to his resume after being named the 29th director of “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band.

Lt. Col. Ryan Nowlin ’00, ’04 assumed the role on Dec. 20, 2023, taking over the helm from Col. Jason K. Fettig, who held the position since 2014.

Nowlin joined the Marine Band as staff arranger in 2010 and was later appointed to assistant director and commissioned as first lieutenant in 2014. He rose to the rank of captain in 2016 and was named associate director of the band in January 2020.

“The directorship is the honor of a lifetime,” Nowlin said. “It’s a stewardship of American musical and ceremonial history, which I approach with the utmost reverence and respect. The United States Marine Band's role is one of service through music to all – what could be more inspiring than that?”

Before joining the U.S. Marine Band, Nowlin taught instrumental music for 10 years in Ohio, drawing on his music education preparation from BGSU.

“My time at Bowling Green State University allowed me to follow my interests and curiosities in music through performing in a wide variety of ensembles from band and orchestra to horn choir, men’s chorus, and even Indonesian Gamelan,” Nowlin said. “It allowed me to take courses inside and outside of music that fostered my desire to learn and grow in a way that has yet to cease.

“It allowed me to explore my interests in education, conducting, and even arranging — something I went on to do for the Falcon Marching Band for well over a decade.”

In addition to studying horn with Herbert Spencer Jr., Nowlin studied conducting with Dr. Bruce Moss, BGSU director of Band Activities, and with Dr. Emily Freeman Brown, BGSU director of Orchestral Activities. Nowlin’s musicianship and talent were quickly recognized and nurtured during his time at the University, Moss recalled.

"It was a joy to be Ryan Nowlin’s mentor in his musical and conducting training. I was immediately taken by his passion for music and his desire to learn the craft of rehearsing and conducting," Moss said. "His heart and giving nature, love and respect for the art of music, humility and genuine desire for helping others enjoy the magic of music are immediately witnessed when seeing him conduct the United States Marine Band."  

Nowlin was an instructor in conducting and band scoring as a graduate student at BGSU and also served as staff arranger for the Falcon Marching Band. His musical influence is still heard at BGSU, with the frequent playing of Nowlin’s “Sounds of the Centennial” during University events and "Go BG Warriors” during marching band pregame shows. “Sounds of the Centennial” was named the winner of the Centennial Fanfare Competition in 2010.

As a composer and arranger, Nowlin has been commissioned to write pieces for concert bands, choirs, brass quintets, solo horn and piano. His works have also been heard nationally on radio and television broadcasts, including the 2014 Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular that featured his arrangement of “America the Beautiful.”

Two of Nowlin’s compositions were featured on Inauguration Day 2021 at the U.S. Capitol, as the Marine Band performed his “Godspeed” during the prelude and “Let Freedom Ring” during the ceremony. He also participated in the inaugurations in 2013 and 2017.

In addition to his duties with the Marine Band, Nowlin frequently appears as a guest conductor with high school honor bands, community and municipal bands and with university ensembles across the country. His published music and instructional method books are used in lessons and performances around the globe, and he can frequently be found providing clinics and master classes to student musicians in classrooms around the country.

“My time at Bowling Green provided lifelong mentors, including my late horn professor Herbert Spencer, whom I credit with not only getting me to the University in the first place, but demanding I dig deep on my own musicianship in a singular way - through horn performance - to discover what springs from the well of my musicality,” Nowlin said.

“If I strike ‘oil’ then I can use that to fuel my interests in teaching, conducting, arranging, and so forth indefinitely. I had no idea then just how important that one lesson would be for the rest of my life and remain forever grateful.”

Updated: 02/16/2024 10:29AM