Getting the band back together

SMSU hosts alumni weekend for band & choir members

Current and past members of the SMSU/Community Concert Band rehearsed together for a special concert performance on Saturday. More than 60 past members of SMSU bands and choirs came back to Marshall for a music alumni weekend.

MARSHALL — When past band and choir members from Southwest Minnesota State University got back together over the weekend, it wasn’t just a reunion. It was a chance to perform together again.

On Saturday morning, band alumni joined current SMSU/Community Concert Band onstage for a special concert rehearsal.

“This is going to be a lot of fun,” band director Dr. John Ginocchio told the crowd.

Past choir and band members said it was fun to have an event focused on music alumni, especially since they got to make music together again.

“It’s great that we have an activity with all the old crew,” said John Ward, a Washington state resident and a past member of the choir.

“It’s good to see each other again, too,” said Karen Neinstadt. Neinstadt said she traveled from St. Paul to attend the alumni weekend and play violin with the Concert Band.

This weekend, SMSU held a few different alumni events for past members of SMSU bands and choirs. In addition to a reception and campus tours, band and choir members also got a chance to perform again, at concerts Saturday and Sunday. First, alumni band members joined up with the SMSU/Community Concert Band and the SMSU Symphonic Chamber Winds group for a Saturday concert. On Sunday, it was the choir alumni’s turn, as they sang together with the SMSU Chorale.

Ginocchio said SMSU has held some events for music alumni in the past. “This is the first one we’ve done in a while,” he said. Choral director Dr. Stephen Kingsbury said they felt it was important to be able to bring together people from all eras of the choir and band programs.

“It’s been wonderful,” Kingsbury said. Through the alumni events, he was introduced to people who were part of the choir even before he came to SMSU.

SMSU band and choir alumni included “a good mix” of people, said reunion attendees like Cliodhna Bridget Albright. The university’s bands and choirs aren’t only made up of music students, and the music groups also include area community members.

“I really loved the program,” Ward said.

At an alumni reception Saturday, Neinstadt said she some of the people she was sitting with were all at SMSU in the early 2000s. It was good to get to meet up again, and to see all of the ways the campus had changed, they said.

“There’s been a lot of changes, because some of us were here before the fire,” said band alumna and Rosemount resident Denae Olsen. The 2002 fire at SMSU destroyed the campus’s old student center, which has since been replaced with a new building.

Ward said that getting to meet people from different generations of band and choir was part of the fun at the alumni weekend. “And you hear stories of everything people are doing these days,” he said.

Choir alumni, including Cottonwood resident Dawnella Walters, said Saturday that they were looking forward to joining the SMSU Chorale for part of its concert.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun hearing all the voices coming together,” Walters said.

Alumni said the SMSU band and choir programs formed a connection with the university and Marshall area community. That was one of the best things about being part of the choir, Walters said.

“I met some good people. Making music with them, you become like a big family,” she said.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

Today's breaking news and more in your inbox
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today