The Minnesota State Band plays in the Central Park band shell in Faribault.
WHEN THE OLDEST BAND in the state of Minnesota, The Minnesota State Band founded in 1898, performed in Faribault on a recent Thursday evening, the audience was bouncing and tapping and directing from benches and from their lawn chairs scattered across Central Park.
A snippet of the crowd listening to The Minnesota State Band.
I love people-watching at concerts nearly as much as listening to the music.
To my right, an elderly man, hands waving, mouthed the words to Ferde Grofe’s “Over There Fantasie,” a World War I song otherwise known as “Ode to an American Soldier,” as the band kicked off its selection of half American and half British Isles tunes.
Before that, conductor Charles Boody bemoaned the loss of a time prior to and during WW I when folks would gather to sing. With the invention of the phonograph and radio, that musical era ended and he termed that loss “a shame.”
I expect that on this Thursday evening, more than a few of the mostly senior citizen audience members would have agreed with him.
As drums beat, feet tapped and swayed and I momentarily confused the drum beat with thunder. Rain threatened, but never fell.
Some audience members pulled out blankets.
The wind stirred a cool breeze through maple trees and forced some concert-goers to wrap wool blankets around themselves. Lily leaves seemed to dance to the music and a preschooler hip-hop-marched to the rhythm, Grandma keeping an ever watchful eye on her.
A few kids, like Emmett, attended the concert.
At the audience perimeter, Emmett’s sisters brushed chalk from the 20-month-old’s shorts after he plopped onto the sidewalk to roll his toy truck across chalk art created by children during Faribault’s recent Heritage Days.
And the band played on. Selections like “Chorale and Shaker Dance,” “Phantom of the Opera” and “”Knightsbridge March.”
Sirens wailed, more than a few times. A semi truck packed with caged turkeys rumbled by, destined for the Jennie-O Turkey Store blocks away. A biker zipped through the park and a walker walked the sidewalk around the park.
Barbara Sells of Mojoe 2 go prepares fresh lemonade for a customer.
During a brief intermission, Barbara Sells of Mojoe 2 go squeezed lemons for fresh lemonade. It was her first time vending at the concert. She noted that her drive-through business, located by the Faribo West Mall at 190 Western Avenue Northwest, sells more than just coffee. You’ll find lemonade, too, and other cool summer treats. She’ll be back at the park.
Then the band played on.
When conductor Boody stepped up to introduce Arthur Sullivan’s music from the comic opera HMS Pinafore, the repeated shrill of a train whistle quelled his soft voice. He went with the moment, stating how much he likes trains.
Darkness began to fall as the band finished its performance around 8:30 p.m.
And I appreciate evenings like this when I can take in the music of a fine band right here in my community as part of the free, yes, free, Thursday night Concerts in the Park series. The Faribault concert was partially funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. The Minnesota State Band’s other performances are all in the metro. (Click here to see the band’s schedule.)
The New Prague Community Band plays in Faribault this coming Thursday, July 3, presenting traditional band and German band music at the concert which begins at 7 p.m. (To see the complete concert series schedule, click here.)
A free outdoor showing of the movie, Monsters University, follows that performance. Outdoor movies are new to this year’s schedule with The Lego Movie slated to show after the July 24 concert.
I’d like to see more families at these concerts. When my three kids were growing up, we’d come nearly every Thursday evening to listen to the music. A relaxed park setting offers the perfect opportunity to expose kids to music in a venue where they needn’t sit. I observed numerous concert-goers swivel their heads to observe an active preschooler, smiles spreading across their faces. There’s something about kids and music and the outdoors…
For a $20 donation to support the band, concert goers received a teddy bear.
And there’s something, too, about band members like trombone player Patricia Ireland, whom we applauded after conductor Boody noted that she’s been with the band for 50 years. Remarkable. The Minnesota State Band is the only remaining state band in the country. While once a state-funded group, the band today operates as a non-profit with all-volunteer membership.
And because we clapped with enthusiasm, the band played an encore while a helicopter thump-thump-thumped overhead, aiming toward the hospital.
© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling