A prominent feature of nineteenth-century musical Americana is the concert band, and the Allentown Band has, for almost two hundred years, kept that tradition alive. Drawn from within a fifty-mile radius of the Lehigh Valley, the band’s 65 musicians, as different as their backgrounds may be, share one common goal: to create and preserve concert band music at a level of excellence rarely heard from a community band.
In 2018 the Allentown Band celebrated its 190th anniversary. It all began in 1828. John Quincy Adams was President, Noah Webster published the First American Dictionary, and on Independence Day, the Allentown Band performed its first documented concert. John Philip Sousa thought so highly of the group in the early 1900’s that he recruited 20 of its members for his own professional band.
Today more than ever, the Allentown Band continues to preserve and advance the heritage of concert band music. The Band organizes and promotes a variety of high quality, educational, and inspiring programming that features gifted musicians, guest artists, and talented high school music students from the greater Lehigh Valley.
The Allentown Band has taken four European concert tours, performing in Switzerland, Austria, and La Croix Valmer, France. “Our Band Heritage,” an ongoing series of compact disc recordings, is a project that documents the vibrant and versatile sound of the band today that include original works for band as well as classic transcriptions, seasonal and thematic albums, notable eras in American history, the music of prominent band composers, Broadway tunes, and of course- marches.
To date, 31 Volumes have reached all fifty states and twenty-four foreign countries. These recordings are now available in CD and digital format from Naxos, i-Tunes and Amazon.
The honors and awards accumulated by the Allentown Band over the years, from various state and national music and music educators’ associations to the John Philip Sousa Foundation, are too numerous to present a complete listing here. Words from the 1991 Allentown “Arts Ovation Award”—“significant contributions to the cultural life of the community”—summarize the Allentown Band’s commitment to the “community” at large.