Concert series is part music, part history lesson

MARSHALL – Kicking off the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council’s summer music series is a program that honors the military, especially the Civil War era.

MAFAC is bringing “A Little Night Music” to the Liberty Park bandshell for the next four weeks. All of the concerts will be at 7 p.m. for the next four Wednesdays, and they are free and open to the public.

The first concert Wednesday will feature a special program by the Mankato Community Band, which is directed by Ryan Juutilainen of Marshall. He went to college at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

“Even though he’s living in Marshall, he’s continued to be their director,” said Helen Pedersen of MAFAC.

Pedersen said the performance being put on by the Mankato Community Band this Wednesday is an “outreach” type of concert.

“It’s a special program they’ve put together,” Pedersen said. “The whole theme of it is the Civil War era.” Pedersen said the program, which was put together for the Mankato Community Band, involves several singers and narrator as well. “Ryan felt Marshall was a good fit.”

Juutilainen said the concert is a “musical history lesson of 1864.” This year is the 150th anniversary of General Sherman’s March to the Sea and President Abraham Lincoln’s re-election.

An Abraham Lincoln impersonator, portrayed by Mankato historian/teacher Bryce Stenzel, will serve as emcee, Juutilainen said. Stenzel as Lincoln will provide the historical background of 1864.

This is Juutilainen’s ninth year of directing the Mankato Community Band, and the concert has been traveled to different cities. Wednesday’s concert will feature a soprano soloist, an euphonium solo and a small group singing patriotic music, Juutilainen said.

A couple of the pieces being performed include John Philip Sousa’s “Marching Through Georgia” and “With Malice Toward None,” narrated by Stenzel as Lincoln.

Several members of the Marshall City Band will join the Mankato Community Band for Wednesday’s concert, Pedersen said. In case of inclement weather, this Wednesday’s concert will take place at First Lutheran Church. There will also be a Whopper feed from 5:30-7 p.m. at Wednesday’s concert.

On July 30, the Prairie Arts Chorale will take the bandshell stage. Pedersen said the group will sing some of the music from its spring concert, “Seasons of Love.”

“It was a delightful show,” she said.

The following week, on Aug. 6, the Southwest Minnesota Orchestra will embark on a “new adventure,” Pedersen said, which is performing in an outdoor venue.

“They asked if they could put on a concert,” she said.

The fourth and final concert of the series on Aug. 13 will feature Starfire, a ’50s type of band from Fulda, Pedersen said. The group was part of the series a couple of years ago, she added.

“They are always a crowd-pleaser,” Pedersen said.