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Community band concert set Sunday at the Holmes: Performance to be dedicated to band's former percussionist

This Sunday's spring concert by the Lakes Area Community Concert Band will be dedicated to the memory of percussionist Susan Lynn Kunz, who passed away April 9 at age 63. (Submitted photo)

When the Lakes Area Community Concert Band takes the stage at the Historic Holmes Theatre on Sunday afternoon, fans of the group may notice that there is a familiar face missing in the percussion section.

Susan Kunz, who has been a loyal member of LACCB for the past eight years, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, April 9 at age 63.

"I was just at her funeral today," said the band's director, Gene Gaffney, on Tuesday.

"She was very dedicated to the band," he added. "Her family told Pastor Dave Peterson (at First Lutheran Church) that when the band had something that would conflict with a family event, they'd (the family) better change their arrangements."

She may not physically be on the stage with her bandmates this Sunday, April 23, but Kunz's presence will be felt nonetheless.

"We're dedicating this concert to her," said Gaffney.

Though there is no admission fee to attend the 4 p.m. concert, there will be a free will offering taken during intermission to help support the band, which is now in its 11th year of performing for the community.

"We have right around 52 members now," Gaffney said. "They come from 20 different communities around the lakes area."

Some travel from as far away as West Fargo and Walker, Minn., for rehearsals, which typically take place on Thursday evenings at the Detroit Lakes High School band room.

But the results are worth it, as Sunday's concert will include a wide range of music, from swing to pop to classical, that is as challenging for the band members as it is entertaining for the audience.

"We'll be doing a couple of marches, as we always do," Gaffney said, noting that one of them would be from the John Phillip Sousa catalog, while the other is a children's march, "Over the Hills and Far Away" by Percy Aldridge Grainger.

"It's delightful," he added. "As you listen, you can almost see the children strolling along. As they come closer, up the hill, the music becomes more robust, then as you visualize them going down the other side of the hill and into the sunset, so does the music."

Another piece, "Aspen Jubilee" by renowned American composer Ron Nelson, takes the audience on a musical journey to Aspen, Colorado, where the composer fell in love with the beauty of the mountains and the clarity of the stars in the night sky during his years of performing there.

"It's a very exciting number," said Gaffney. "He wrote a really neat part for a soprano vocalist that's going to be performed for us by Liz Harman. She sings no words, it just gives some beautiful musical texture to the other instruments."

Other highlights will include musical tributes to "Benny Goodman: The King of Swing," and iconic American songwriter Irving Berlin, who wrote over 1,000 songs, from "There's No Business Like Show Business" to "Steppin' Out With My Baby" and "White Christmas," and lived to be 101.

"We're also doing a wonderful piece by Felix Mendelssohn," Gaffney added. "He was at a resort with his parents and heard this marvelous band and decided to write a number for them that they could play at one of their concerts... He was only 15 years old when he wrote it, and yet it has such maturity."

For more information about Sunday's concert, please contact the Holmes Theatre Box Office at 218-844-7469, or visit the website at

For more information about becoming a part of the LACCB, contact Band Manager Rick Olson at 218-234-6102 or You can also visit the band's website at

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