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Bemidji Area Community Band: Guest conductors to lead musicians

The three conductors for this year's Bemidji Area Community Band concerts are shown from left Mike Kerrigan from Walker; Erika Svanoe, band director for Bemidji State University; and Terry Bradley, retired band director from Bemidji High School. Pioneer Photo/ Monte Draper

When Terry Bradley gives the downbeat to the Bemidji Area Community Band at 7 p.m. today, June 19, at Baker Park, many of the players will be welcoming back their former band director. The band director for the past few seasons, Dave Murphy, retired to the percussion section of the band at the end of last season. This year there will be three guest conductors who will each get two rehearsals with the band before the concerts.

One of the unique things about this band is that there are players who are 80-plus years old, and the youngest player is going into the eighth grade this fall. Families play together and for generations.

Terry Bradley returns today at the behest of band member, Glenn Seibel.

"Glenn stopped me at church one Sunday and asked me if I would like to conduct one of the concerts this summer," said Bradley. "I said, 'Sure, why not?'"

Bradley is a woodwind player who taught at Bemidji High School for 29 years. "After being a director all those years, you kind of miss it," said Bradley. "When the opportunity presented itself, I thought, 'Well, one last shot;' I picked selections that I like to conduct and that would sound good and consequently we have a program."

One of the pieces will feature Erika Svanoe in "Clarinet on the Town" by Ralph Hermann. Savone, director of bands at Bemidji State University, will conduct the next two concerts on July 3 and 17. She and her husband, Erik Evensen, played in the band last season.

"It's a real treat for me to play in a band for a change of pace," said Svanoe. "I direct school bands all year but when Glenn asked me to do a couple of concerts, I said, 'Yes, I can do that.'"

Svanoe said she is excited because it gives her a chance to conduct music that she doesn't normally use during the school year. She went on to explain that when she conducts bands at BSU, she has different priorities: literature that she feels students need to learn. For summer band she just wants to do some fun music.

"I am a huge Harry Potter fan," said Svanoe, "So at the July 17 concert, we will be doing music from the Harry Potter franchise."

The final concert of the season July 31 will feature Mike Kerrigan, a retired band director from the Walker, Hackensack, Akeley School District.

"I am a Bemidji State grad (1974), and it was a great time in my life, and I had a great music education," said Kerrigan. "I've been retired for three years, and to be back doing this is a real treat."

The conductors were complimentary of the players, some of whom are professionals and others who play for as an avocation. They also agreed that the ability to play music well is a gift.

For more information about the location, program and instructions in case of rain, please see today's arts column on Page A2 of the Pioneer.