How Does the City Keep the Show Going On?

In Modesto, Music Is By the People and For the People

How do you engage a community in the arts—especially when resources, attention spans, and time are all limited? A panel of local musicians addressed this question and others at a “Living the Arts” event co-presented by the James Irvine Foundation in front of a full house at the McHenry Museum in Modesto.

Every Thursday night in the summer, Modesto’s MoBand plays for thousands of people, free of charge. There are community bands all over the country. Modesto Bee editor Joseph Kieta, the evening’s moderator, asked MoBand director George Gardner: “What’s the secret sauce? What makes MoBand so special for this community?”

A lot of things have grown on their own, Gardner answered modestly. But he believes that the quality of music in Modesto has something to do with it, supported by a robust teaching program in the school system.

MoBand’s structure is also …

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