In working with a show choir back-up band, I had the opportunity to view several shows, including a show choir from California. What I noticed was that the performances that I enjoyed most generally had music I recognized but arranged in a new and intriguing way, and having a Bachelors of Music Education I might be more prone to notice such things. Sometimes this was done with setting a song to a different style, and sometimes this was in taking two songs and blending them together. It got me thinking about why show choirs are doing this and not instrumental ensembles.
The obvious answer is that it's easier to do this with vocal music because they are less complex, especially when working with contemporary or "radio music". But this the ease of something shouldn't determine whether it is done or not. This musical blending can help make instrumental music more accessible to the casual listener, while also engaging performers in new techniques and styles of performance. People are more likely to want to hear more if they recognize parts of the music, even if in a different setting than they are used to. And this musical blending can also work in reverse, by making "radio music" more accessible to those that might not normally listen to it.
Marching bands have began integrating more modern dance into their body movements but still generally limit themselves musically. I have seen more and more break dancing and similar movements from the guard and sometimes the band breaking partially away from the "traditional" movements, but more is still needed. This isn't to say that their shows aren't enjoyable, but musical blending could bring a new level of performance energy and audience interaction to the shows.
Bands and orchestras seem to be the least experimental when it comes to this idea of musical blending. In general these ensembles' range of musical experimentation extends to 21st century music and no further. Perhaps some of the blame falls on the composers who write for these ensembles, but it also falls on the directors for not seeking out new ways to reach not only their students, but their audiences. Musical blending allows an audience to connect with the music in different ways and encourages further exploration of all aspects of a musical world, while also pushing performers to learn new styles and techniques. It's time to start actively pushing at the envelope, thinking outside the box, and writing our own musical history. George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," bet he didn't say we have to live in the past. Let's keep the past at our side, as we journey forward into our musical evolution.