— by Kim Davenport
Concert bands have flourished in the United States since the 19th century. One of the most famous examples is John Philip Sousa, who led both the U.S. Marine Band and his own civilian ensemble in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. [Sousa’s band performed in Tacoma, but that’s another story for another day!] If you haven’t experienced a concert band live, imagine the power of a symphony orchestra, but without the strings – concert bands are made up of members of the wind, brass, and percussion families.
Tacoma is fortunate to have a community concert band with a long tradition of excellence. The Tacoma Concert Band was founded in 1981 by Robert Musser, who was kind enough to share with us some of his motivations behind starting the group:
“I wanted to form a ‘professional level’ community concert band capable of performing the very best literature from the repertoire for concert band. At the time there was no community band of this quality in the entire Puget Sound area. I felt that it was time. It was and still is an opportunity for the finest wind and percussion players to have a place to continue to play their instruments in an ensemble of other fine players.”
The 2017-18 season will be Musser’s last as conductor of the ensemble, as he prepares for retirement. Thankfully, though, it does not mark the end of the band, which has established itself in Tacoma with regular concerts at the Pantages Theater, national and international tours, commissions of new works, recordings, and educational outreach through their Young Artist Program.
Even as Musser bows out after the coming season, and UPS professor Gerard Morris takes over in 2018-19, the group will undoubtedly hold on to a sense of its history and founding mission. After all, seven of the band’s members have been performing with the group since its founding in 1981.
If you’ve never attended a Tacoma Concert Band concert, 2017-18 would be a great time to start – from holiday concerts to fantastic soloists to the final event celebrating Maestro Musser, tickets are available now! And for a little preview, be sure to look up the TCB on YouTube, where you can find everything from the familiar:
to a taste of something new: