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The Band is back: Community Band to open summer concert series June 15

The Bemidji Area Community Band includes a wide range of ages from teenagers to those in their 80s.1 / 3
The trumpet section of the Bemidji Area Community Band rehearses on Wednesday night as they prepare for their June 15 concert.2 / 3
Former Bemidji High School band director Les Torgerson will conduct the first Bemidji Area Community Band concert of the summer on June 15.3 / 3

BEMIDJI -- A Father's Day tribute and music dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion will highlight the Bemidji Area Community Band's opening concert of the summer on June 15.

The concert is scheduled at 7 p.m. on the lawn south of Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex on the BSU campus. Concert-goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. There is no admission charge, but free-will donations will be accepted. In case of rain, the event will be moved indoors at Bangsberg.

Former Bemidji High School director of bands Les Torgerson will conduct the first concert. Scott Guidry, who just completed his first year as director of bands at BSU, will conduct the remaining concerts on July 6, July 20 and Aug. 3.

Torgerson earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in music at BSU and directed Bemidji High School bands from 1967 to 1972. This is the fourth year he has conducted one of the community band concerts.

"I'm really enjoying coming back and conducting the group," Torgerson said. "They're so responsive and they can play with so much expression."

To mark the anniversary of Normandy, the band will perform the first movement from the Suite Francaise composed by Darius Milhaud, entitled "Normandie."

Milhaud was part of "Les Six," a group of early 20th Century French composers who tried to distinguish themselves in a style different from the French impressionists like Claude Debussy and German romantics like Richard Wagner.

The band also will perform a big band classics piece from the Normandy era arranged by Eric Osterling that features a few Glenn Miller songs like "Tuxedo Junction," "Seranade in Blue" and "In the Mood."

A moving arrangement of "Amazing Grace" by Frank Ticheli will serve as a Father's Day tribute and feature a saxophone solo by the conductor's daughter, Sanna Gustafson.

The concert also will include a Blues Brothers revue, and the clarinet section will take center stage on Leroy Anderson's "Clarinet Candy."

Guidry is looking forward to taking the baton for the remaining concerts. After spending 20 years in the Air Force, he came to Bemidji last year to join the BSU faculty. Guidry was most recently the director of operations for the United States Air Force Band based in Washington, D.C.

"The No. 1 goal of all of us is to make everybody feel good about who they are in the band and in the audience," he said. "I want to maintain a sense of community with our concerts and just keep that going."

With his military background, Guidry is especially excited to conduct the July 6 concert.

"I really enjoy, probably more than any other concert, the chance to celebrate our heritage as Americans," he said. "From that I can tell there is no lack of patriotism in Bemidji."