By GUY D’ASTOLFO
It’s time to face the music.
As a result of the federal belt-tightening caused by the sequestration budget cuts, all nonessential travel by U.S. military bands and orchestras has been canceled, putting an abrupt halt to their concert tours.
Locally, that means the April 3 concert by the U.S. Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants has been canceled. It was to take place at Stambaugh Auditorium.
“We heard maybe a week ago that it was a possibility,” said Matt Pagac, general manager of the concert hall on Fifth Avenue. The Air Force confirmed the cancellation Friday and told Pagac to release the news Wednesday.
It was a free concert, but attendees were asked to request tickets in advance.
Pagac said 1,186 tickets already had been given out. “We usually give away nearly 2,000 tickets for these concerts and get between 1,600 and 1,900 people,” he said.
The Air Force has not announced any plans to reschedule the tour, said Pagac.
The Vindicator was a sponsor of the canceled concert. The auditorium will send letters to all who requested tickets by mail, informing them of the cancellation, said Nena Perkins, community-events manager for the newspaper.
The Air Force announced that two April tours of the northeastern part of the United States have been canceled. The tours were to bring Air Force bands to concert halls in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.
The nation’s military bands are known for the high quality of their musicianship and usually maintain busy touring schedules.
Though the cancellation of military-band tours is an early and visible sign of the sequester cuts, it’s certainly not the only one.
“Every day we are hearing about more things being affected by the sequester cuts,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th. “The military bands of the United States have a long tradition of entertaining Americans and honoring our heroes. But these cuts are minor compared to what this is doing to our civilian personnel, military readiness and our ability to answer the global challenges that we face.”