Montana State University

MSU Wind Symphony selected to perform at 2017 Sousa Band Festival in D.C.

July 21, 2016 -- MSU News Service

MSU Director of Bands Nathan Stark conducts the wind symphony during commencement ceremonies. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham

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Tel: (406) 994-4571

BOZEMAN -- The Montana State University Wind Symphony has been selected to perform in the 2017 Sousa Band Festival set for March 12 in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

The MSU Wind Symphony is one of only four concert bands nationwide invited to take part in the festival commemorating the compositions and legacy of John Philip Sousa, one of the most well-known composers of American military marches and patriotic music.

Each band will also play in a clinic with Col. Arnald D. Gabriel, director emeritus of the U.S. Air Force Band. Additionally, participating bands will visit important Sousa-related sites in Washington, D.C., including the historic Congressional Cemetery, Sousa’s burial site.

“It is a huge honor to be invited to the Sousa Festival,” said Nathan Stark, director of bands at MSU. “This will be such an incredible opportunity. We will not only have the chance to perform on stage at the Kennedy Center, one of the most prestigious venues in world, but we will also have the opportunity to work with some of the premier military band commanders in the country, as well. At a time when the future of our service bands is uncertain, it is important to recognize the great impact that the military bands program has had on the development of all bands, from community organizations to public school and university programs. If it hadn’t been for the work of Sousa, and other military musicians, we wouldn’t enjoy the tradition and depth of wind bands that we have in this country and at MSU.”

Sousa, known as the March King, wrote 136 marches, including “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” He is also well known for developing the Sousaphone, a brass instrument similar to the tuba, that is particularly well suited for marching.

The MSU Wind Symphony, one of the three flagship ensembles in the MSU School of Music, is a select group featuring some of the top musicians from across the university community. The band performs at MSU commencement ceremonies, as well as in various concerts throughout the year. The Wind Symphony performs some of the most challenging and spectacular pieces in the concert band repertoire, often featuring guest artists.

For more information about the Sousa Band Festival, see    

Contact: Nathan Stark, School of Music, (406) 994-5761 or