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Lakes Band Festival to perform Nov. 20 in Brainerd

The free festival includes the musical talents of the top jazz band from Pierz Healy High School and the top bands from Sauk Rapids-Rice High School and Brainerd High School along with the 68-piece Central Lakes Wind Symphony.

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“It’s really unbelievable the music that is going to be performed,” said Jonathan Laflamme, Central Lakes College music instructor and conductor, said of the first of what he hopes will be an annual event with the Lakes Band Festival. Contributed / Metro Newspaper Graphics

A band festival will take the stage at Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, in what organizers hope will be an annual event.

The free festival includes the musical talents of the top jazz band from Pierz Healy High School and the top bands from Sauk Rapids-Rice High School and Brainerd High School along with the 68-piece Central Lakes Wind Symphony.

“It’s really unbelievable the music that is going to be performed,” said Jonathan Laflamme, Central Lakes College music instructor and conductor. “I would never have dreamed I would be standing in front of such accomplished musicians.”

Music will include arrangements from “West Side Story” with Leonard Bernstein’s “Gee, Officer Krupke” along with a Korean folk song and an elegy for English horn and band featuring David Thompson that is dedicated to those lost to the coronavirus pandemic. And it may not truly be a band festival without a piece by John Philip Sousa. Those attending should listen for Sousa’s “Liberty Bell March” after intermission.

And “Ghost Train” works to create a mental image of bending metal, trains and train whistles — using music to evoke the visual.

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“It’s really remarkable,” Laflamme said. “We’ve been rehearsing since August and we are really excited to perform.”

Laflamme said there are many semi-professional symphonies so he questioned why not have those opportunities with bands. The area has many great musicians, he said, noting people who studied or taught music previously, or those who studied and played before going on to other careers.

RELATED: CLC offers new music degree: Program strikes a chord with students

In thinking about a band festival, the idea was to include two to three high school bands and a new ensemble. The former CLC Community Band is transitioning to a semi-professional band with jazz and concert bands continuing to be open to community members with skills from intermediate to advanced. Laflamme said the former community band members found a home in one of the new bands. When the community band changed, he said extra ensembles were created for those in a learning phase.

Laflamme said the change opened doors for new musicians looking for a high level of ensemble, for students pursuing a music degree and for community members with skills in an intermediate range, ultimately providing fulfillment for a vast diversity of abilities and an incentive to college students.


"It’s really unbelievable the music that is going to be performed."

—Jonathan Laflamme, Central Lakes College music instructor and conductor.


Laflamme said he hopes the Lakes Band Festival will be an annual event and already has schools signed up for next year. In the spring, the plan is to provide another festival in the new Pillager High School auditorium.

The band festival can be a place where families can come together and offer inspiration to future music students, Laflamme said.

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Masks are required and the performing art center’s 1,200-seat capacity provides opportunities for social distancing.

Those looking for music for the holidays can find Jingle and Mingle with music by the Central Lakes Jazz Orchestra at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at Roundhouse Brewery in Nisswa. Proceeds benefit music students and the CLC Music Department Fund at the Central Lakes College Foundation.

RENEE RICHARDSON, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.
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