From Steve Layton at the always excellent Sequenza 21, a great essay about the modern American wind band and its (earned but unrecognized) place in concert musical life, in the form of a review of several recordings. A taste:
I had a teacher who once said that the sound of a symphony orchestra was one of the great achievements of Western civilization. Whether that’s true or not is open for debate, but there seems to be no question that the survival of orchestras in small to medium markets in the United States is in doubt. There are also artistic questions about the viability of the model that makes a symphony orchestra the center of a town’s musical life. Wind music, whose players are more plentiful than string players, and whose audiences tend to be more open to new music and new artistic situations, can assume a more central role than it has in most places now.
All of the pieces are in place, then, for bands to play an important role in the revitalization (or continued growth, depending on how you see the current situation) of concert music in the United States. What may be needed are artists, presenters, and patrons with the will and the imagination to re-invent musical life in their cities and towns.