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Community band concert Saturday at Holmes Theatre

Nothing quite says "Merry Christmas" like a performance of Leroy Anderson's classic tune "Sleigh Ride" by a 40-piece concert band.

This Saturday, Dec. 12, the Lakes Area Community Concert Band will be performing not only this holiday favorite, but a host of other Christmas songs in a 4 p.m. concert at the Historic Holmes Theatre in Detroit Lakes.

Gene Gaffney, who has served as the band's conductor since its first rehearsal, said this will be the second concert the band has done in the past month. (The first was held during the Holmes Art Show weekend on Nov. 22.)

"We had 10 rehearsals to prepare for our fall concert in November," Gaffney said. "For our Christmas program, the music isn't quite as challenging, so we put it together in three rehearsals."

The music at Saturday's concert will encompass quite a variety of both "secular and sacred" music, Gaffney added.

The community band holds regular practice sessions throughout the year, but steps up its rehearsal schedule prior to a concert. "We have another concert in April ... we'll start rehearsals for that in February," said Gaffney.

Though the band's membership "fluctuates according to the season," Gaffney added, it has reached as high as 40 musicians, from communities throughout the lakes region.

"They come from eight or 10 different communities ... some from as far away as Fargo, Pelican Rapids and Park Rapids," he continued. Detroit Lakes and Frazee are also well represented.

The age range encompasses musicians from as young as ninth grade to those in their seventies, Gaffney added. But the musicians seem to have no trouble finding common ground despite the diversity in their ages.

"We are all there for a single purpose, and that's to create beautiful music," he said.

"There's no wasted time -- they're just such hard workers. They want to do well and they enjoy what they create."

Gaffney also enjoys the results of their labor.

"Because of their talent, the caliber of music we can play is collegiate level and beyond," he said.

Of course, Gaffney also enjoys interacting with the band members.

"It's very rewarding," he said of his four years with the band. "One thing that really makes it worthwhile is our audience -- we have a marvelous audience both in size and enthusiasm. I don't think we've gotten by one concert without a standing ovation or doing an encore."

And it's no wonder, what with stirring finale performances such as that planned for this Saturday's concert.

"We'll end it with the 'Hallelujah Chorus,'" Gaffney said. "It gets a standing ovation every time."

There will also be an audience sing-along portion, featuring some favorite Christmas hymns -- and of course, the aforementioned "Sleigh Ride."

Though admission to the concert is free, Gaffney said, there will be a free will offering taken during intermission.

For more information about Saturday's concert, or other upcoming events at the Historic Holmes Theatre, contact the Holmes Box Office at 218-844-SHOW (7469) or visit

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454