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Band keeps growing, making music

Board members of the Bemidji Area Community Band recently presented a Bemidji Woolen Mills blanket to departing members Erik Evensen and Erika Svanoe. From left are Vicki Magnuson, Glenn Seibel, Evensen, Svanoe and Sarah Sundeen. Eriksen and Svanoe will be moving from Bemidji later this year. —Submitted Photo

BEMIDJI — For more than 40 years, Vicki Magnuson has been making it a tradition to perform in the Bemidji Area Community Band during its summer concert series. And this year will be no different. Magnuson, a clarinet player, will be one of many instrumentalists playing in the band’s annual Fourth of July concert Sunday. More than 40 community band members will present a free concert at 7 p.m. on the south side lawn of Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex on the campus of Bemidji State University. In case of inclement weather, the concert will be relocated to the Thompson Recital Hall. As an ode to the patriotic holiday, Magnuson said Sunday’s concert will include a variety of musical pieces to create an “Americana and summery” atmosphere. “We’re doing some things that have a Fourth of July feel to it, but not quite as much as if we were doing a concert on that actual day,” Magnuson said. According to Glenn Seibel, Bemidji Community Band board president, the concert series began the Sunday of Father’s Day weekend and usually happens every other Sunday, but since the holiday is happening on a Thursday this year, it didn’t seem appropriate to have the concert before the holiday. “I’ve always felt part of the Fourth of July celebration is to have a band concert,” Seibel said. “We’ve tried to be consistent by having concerts every other Sunday, and people are starting to know when we do things.” The second of four concerts, Sunday’s concert, under the direction of Les Torgerson, Director of Music Emeritus at Northland Community College in Thief River Falls, will feature music by Frank Sinatra, a classic baseball tune, cultural music and various traditional patriotic songs. “I have a picture in my mind of the old John Philip Souza ‘Summer in the Park’ evening experience,” said Seibel. Playing the euphonium for more than 55 years in numerous community bands and ensembles, Seibel said he has seen first-hand the impact of being involved with music can have. “The younger people in the band can see by playing with these older people that this is something you can keep doing forever, even beyond school,” he said. “It’s good for them to see this outlet and it’s a great example for them to learn from us.” Since joining the community band in 1991, Seibel has worked to improve the community band program, applying for grants and building lasting relationships with the community. “We’ve gotten a terrific response from the community,” Seibel said. “By and large, when I’ve called businesses for their support, they always want to help us.” A different business sponsors each concert — Raphael’s Bakery will be the sponsor Sunday, providing the audience with patriotic-themed cookies. Attendees are urged to bring lawn chairs and beverages. Using the money to improve band equipment — such as Plexiglas stand covers to keep music from blowing in the wind — expand music selections and cover other expenses, Seibel said the band has been able to improve in ways the general public would not otherwise notice. A continuously growing band, Magnuson said the group provides its members a place to express their talents they might not otherwise be able to do. “If I didn’t practice, I’d get rusty and I’m too old to go backwards in my abilities,” she said. “You need to have something to play in.” Future band concerts will be hosted July 21 and Aug. 4, also at 7 p.m. on the south side lawn of Bangsberg.