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A sweeter song: Bemidji Area Community Band prepares for summer concert series

Ryan Webber conducts the Bemidji Area Community Band during a rehearsal on Wednesday in BSU's Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer) 1 / 5
The Bemidji Area Community Band rehearses on Wednesday at BSU for an upcoming performance on June 17. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer) 2 / 5
Darrel Rodekuhr plays the bassoon on Wednesday during a rehearsal for the Bemidji Area Community Band. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer) 3 / 5
Tim Lhotka plays the tuba on Wednesday during a rehearsal for the Bemidji Area Community Band. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer) 4 / 5
A musician makes a note on her sheet music Wednesday during a rehearsal for the Bemidji Area Community Band. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer) 5 / 5

BEMIDJI -- Instead of packing it in for three months out of the year, musicians with the Bemidji Area Community Band simply take their instruments outdoors when the weather gets warm enough that they don’t have to worry about their lips sticking to their frozen trombones or brushing the snow off their drum heads.

However, summer doesn’t just mean musicians have to perform the same music in the open air they otherwise would play in the pit. Instead, there’s a difference in the energy of the songs they choose to perform, as well as in the amount of preparation that goes into the group’s performance.

“It’s typically lighter fair than what you’ll hear from the bands during the school year,” said Ryan Webber, an adjunct BSU professor and one of two directors for the coming season of the Bemidji Area Community Band. “It’s lighthearted; It’s music traditionally associated with bands during the summer time.”

The Bemidji Area Community Band will perform four concerts on the lawn of BSU’s Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex. They will take place at 7 p.m. on June 17, July 1, July 22 and Aug. 5. Webber will conduct the first two concerts, followed by BSU Director of Bands Scott Guidry, who will conduct the following two.

Like Webber, Guidry said the summer shows take on a lighter atmosphere than one may expect during an indoor event. When selecting music for summer, Guidry likes to pick numbers from marches, Broadway musicals, as well as a handful of patriotic numbers.  

There also are other slight differences between the seasons rather than just the music the band plays. In Bemidji, for example, the musicians may perform next to their peers who are in town specifically for the warm cabin weather on the lake.

Unlike when Webber and Guidry work with other bands throughout the year, they find themselves on a tighter timetable in the summer months.

“It’s impressive what the musicians do and learn in just a few weeks,” Webber said. “For the summer band, part of the excitement and the challenge is ‘what can we do with this music in a short amount of time?’”

While the concert series may be a good way to enjoy the light-heartedness of summer, the July 22 performance will pay tribute to the memory of a longtime Community Band performer and supporter Betty Masoner, who passed away last November.

“We figured we needed to do something for her during the next summer series because of all that she did,” Guidry said.

During that concert, retired Col. Arnald Gabriel from the U.S. Air Force Band will guest conduct a couple of numbers. Gabriel is a D-Day veteran.

During that same week, Bemidji Music Camp will induct Gabriel into its Hall of Fame.

Guidry said having having Gabriel guest conduct during the concert will be a fitting way to honor Masoner, who was a dedicated supporter of military veterans.

“It’s just perfect to have a war hero here in Bemidji to conduct a concert to honor Betty who was such a veteran supporter,” Guidry said. “The synergy, I think, will be incredible at this concert.”

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