Congratulations are in order. They go out to the East Winds Symphonic Band, in the greater Pittsburgh, PA area. The Sousa Foundation awarded them the Sudler Silver Scroll, the highest award a North American community band can achieve. While any number of community bands can receive the award in a given year, only the East Winds Symphonic Band received the award in December of 2008.
I believe this brings the total number of community bands receiving the award to 35. Southeast Wisconsin has always been active in community music, and the fact that there are two Sudler Award winning community bands in the area is certainly an indication. If you're keeping score, the Racine Concert Band received the award in the 90's and Milwaukee's Knightwind Ensemble received the award in 2005.
The award is special because each band that applies for it must show contributions to the culture of the community in which it serves, as well as musical ability. The musical portion is judged blindly by 15 people from around the country (the applying band must create 15 CDs containing about 30 minutes of music from their concerts of the last year). The application itself fills a three ring binder, showing the contributions to the community over many years. I've chatted with a couple of Sudler award judges who tell me that it is not uncommon to receive 50 applications for the award each year. Usually one or two of the applicants will receive the award. There were some years when no one received the award.
So, again, congratulations to the East Winds Symphonic Band of Pittsburgh, the newest community band to be recognized by the Sousa Foundation as one of the best in North America!
And a reminder: if you'd like tickets to the Valentine Dinner and Concert presented by the Menomonee Falls Symphony, call Delores Chrzan at 262-679-0779. Reservations must be made by February 6th.