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What is a Sousa Concert?

Hello friends!


I have been asked this question a number of times over the years. The short answer is---a concert done in the style of the great Sousa band of around 1900.  A fast paced, highly entertaining concert consisting of a wide variety of music, not just Sousa marches, and a great deal of patriotic music too.  Now, let me explain more fully what this means and why it remains so popular with our audience.


John Philip Sousa (1854-1932) was an American Phenomenon. He emerged as an entertainer and public figure in an era which found America emerging as a major international power. His pioneer philosophy argued that “much stuffy, uninteresting music is fed to the public under the guise of culture-music, which they do not really understand, enjoy or benefit from.”  So, simply stated, Sousa performed the things people appreciated and performed them as well as possible. His programs ranged widely from classics to common tunes and novelties, with numerous soloists and many encores (usually his own marches) sprinkled throughout the program. But he was uncompromising in the matter of execution, even the most simple and insignificant tune was played to perfection. Sousa probably did more to diminish musical snobbery than any other conductor of his time.  His concerts were attended by thousands of people, and he and his band gained international fame.  


I began this tradition of programing a “Sousa style” concert with the TCB in 1986 and it has become our most popular concert over the years.  Many years ago I had a uniform made for me by the same uniform company that made Sousa’s uniform.  They still had the pattern and so it is an identical copy of one of his uniforms.  I dress for the concert to try to look like the Sousa of around 1910 and we have special overlays that all of the band members wear to try to give the appearance of the Sousa band of this era.  Everything we do and play is in the style as it would have been in the era between 1892 (when he formed his own band) and his death in 1932.  This October 14, 2017, will be the thirteenth and perhaps the last time that I will portray Sousa in a concert with the Tacoma Concert Band.  I hope that all of you will make this concert a priority and come join us for what promises to be a very uplifting and entertaining event for the whole family.




Robert Musser




Tacoma Concert Band


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