Breathe in, whistle.
November 9, 2007 4:34 AM   Subscribe

Those are some pretty good high school bands (though I'm not a great fan of that rendition of Night on Bald Mountain... not exciting enough or well-blended enough to be really effective).

Considered one of the very best college wind ensembles today is the North Texas Wind Symphony. They've released a large number of recordings of wind ensemble literature.

Despite their prevalence in high school and college, there are very few full-time professional wind ensembles or concert bands (excluding service bands). For some reason, band music is very strong in Japan compared to the USA. Accordingly, one of the few professional wind ensembles is the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra.
posted by musicinmybrain at 7:57 AM on November 9, 2007

I posted a wind ensemble recording of mine here a while back, a terrific piece. Wind ensembles, wind symphonies, concert and symphonic bands are indeed flourishing throughout the world (not just in the U.S. and Japan, but also in South Korea, Singapore, China, Australia, the UK, etc.). And there are indeed some amazing high school ensembles out there.

The main reason there are very few full time professional wind ensembles or concert bands is primarily an issue of repertoire--the orchestra has about 300 years' worth of music from which to draw, while composers only started writing for the band in the early 1900s*, and only in a big way in the past half century. So there really isn't enough great repertoire yet to sustain a full time professional ensemble. (Plus, in the U.S. anyway, it's hard enough for the organizations--like orchestras--that do exist to sustain themselves.)

Band music is astonishingly widespread in Japan, and the research I've read indicates that the origin of this lies in the arrival of Commodore Perry, who came ashore with his ship's band, which proved fascinating to the Japanese.

And that Hollywood group's performance is terrible, but the high school groups linked are quite good.

(*-there was no such thing as a large wind ensemble or concert band until the tuba came into common usage in the later 19th century; this is why wind ensemble music composed prior to that is for chamber-size ensemble (with a few notable exceptions, like Handel's Fireworks Music or Berlioz' Grande symphonie fun├Ębre et triomphale); indeed, some of our greatest composers' finest work is for the medium, like Mozart's Gran Partita or Stravinsky's Symphonies of Wind Instruments.)

(Also, you'll get more interesting results if you search Youtube on "wind ensemble".)
posted by LooseFilter at 10:11 AM on November 9, 2007

« Older The History of the Super Mario Franchise.   |   Math classes with a cause. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments