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The year 1919 marked the beginning of the “Golden Age of Bands” in America’s public schools and John Philip Sousa served as a staunch advocate for the inclusion of music instruction and performance ensembles in every student’s course of study. He wrote in November 1923, “high schools will have to furnish the recruits for the musicians of tomorrow… I hope to see the day when all high schools will have music as an elective course.” This special fund raising concert brings together the community’s three exceptional high school concert bands in a special wind ensemble performance that highlights the diverse musical talent of Urbana-Champaign. The concert will conclude with the premiere of Benjamin Montalbano’s Under American Skies: A Hymn for the Common Man which is loosely derived from John Philip Sousa’s The Thunderer. The work was commission by the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music in 2012, and will be performed by members of the three bands under the baton of Barry L. Houser, Director of the Marching Illini & Athletic Bands and Assistant Director of Bands at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Proceeds from this concert will be used to help fund each high school’s band program. For further information and reservations contact the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music at 217-333-4577 or (email@example.com).