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High school band honors late band director with special concert

Austin HS band studentsAUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) – At the 49th annual Austin High School Band Blast, the program debuted a work to honor an influential man who connected with students both as people and musicians.

“I guess we were a little bit nervous and a little bit excited as well,” said Willem Huizinga, a senior in the Austin High School band. “At least for me personally, I like to be able to hear a piece before I play it.”

The performance made tougher by having to perform at the Music Educators Association Conference earlier this year, then practices cut short by snow days. The current band director is proud of how his students rose to the occasion.

“And then turn right back around and then started putting in the time to learn this brand new piece of music that has no recordings,” said Christoph Dundas, Austin High School band director. “Nobody knows what it sounds like except for us and tonight we get to share that with other people.”Austin HS band students

The piece to honor the late band director Dave Kallman was composed by St. Olaf’s Tim Mahr, who was a student-teacher at Austin years ago and a family friend of the Kallmans.

The work is broken into different sections to highlight the late band director’s personality.

“It’s a challenge in and of itself because you are the standard that this piece is going to be held to since you’re the first people premiering it,” Huizinga said. “It’s an honor and it’s a challenge.”

The performance also marks the final show for the seniors.

“It’s really just an overwhelming amount of emotions because it’s my final band concert. I’m excited to get this over with and nervous to get it done.” said Huizinga.

As former students donated money to help make this concert possible, they shared stories of their former teacher and mentor. The current band director remembers being told of Kallman’s influence.

Someone told us that Mr. Kallman caught them in the hall and said ‘Why aren’t you in band?’. That person ended up learning to play an instrument and 50 or 60 years later is still playing her instrument today.” Dundas said.

Bands from grades 7 through 12 performed and carry on Kallman’s legacy and vision for the program at Austin High School.

“We’re just a huge family.” said Huizinga. “I really appreciate that about the band program here at Austin.”
“I can’t see myself doing anything else. It’s a job that I love and I get to come to school everyday and have fun.” concluded Dundas.

Alex Tejada

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