“The Air Force is not just about dropping bombs on people,” Drury said. “Especially in smaller communities, at Fourth of July parades and holiday concerts,’’ it doesn’t matter if you’re left or right politically, he said. “It makes you happy to see and hear them play.”
The Heritage band is unlikely to tour New England as far and wide as Liberty has, predicts Drury. For one thing, it will have far more territory to cover. For another, further budget cuts could well mean less travel, not more. And yet, he said, “the entire cost of military music programs is .008 percent of the defense budget, so you’re not really saving a lot.”
The Band of Liberty moved from its former headquarters in Arizona to Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire in 1978, relocating to Hanscom in 1991.
Members are mostly recruited through music schools. Seventy-five percent hold master’s degrees, said Drury, and often cultivate close ties to institutions like the New England Conservatory.
Alpar, who’s redeploying to Washington, D.C., is trying to keep this week’s finale in perspective. “I love my job, and the band is incredibly important to me,” he said. “But when you could be talking about cutting flying hours instead, you have to say, ‘I understand.’ ”
Joseph P. Kahn can be reached at email@example.com.