the best orchestra in the world--the Berliner Philharmoniker--appear here one month and the best band in the land--the Eastman Wind Ensemble--perform on the same stage exactly one month later?
Two things make the Eastman Wind Ensemble the best. First, the EWE was the first to join winds, brass, and percussion for the purpose of playing band pieces (Sousa, for example), amazing transcriptions (Scheidt, say), and newly commissioned works (Schwantner, anyone?). Founded by Frederick Fennell in 1951 at Rochester's Eastman School of Music, the EWE virtually created the standard band repertoire, and in the decades since, more than 20,000 bands have been founded in their sonic image in high schools, colleges, universities and music conservatories across the country.
But even the best of their aural offspring--the North Texas Wind Symphony from North Texas University--cannot match the Eastman. As Fennell passed the baton to Donald Hunsberger and Hunsberger in turn passed it to Mark Davis Scatterday, so the faculty and students of the Eastman School have passed on the secrets of their smooth tone and seamless ensemble, their polished technique and poised sense of rhythm, and almost sixty years later the EWE is still instantly recognizable as the super-virtuoso band Fennell founded.