Owatonna Community Band preview

The Owatonna Community Band will play the 11@7 Central Park concert series multiple times this summer, and the first of those shows is Thursday. (Photo courtesy Amy Vincelli)

OWATONNA — The Owatonna Community Band, which dates back to 1977 and still has active founding members, will play the 11@7 Central Park concert series multiple times this summer, and the first of those shows is Thursday.

“Every concert, you’re going to hear something different,” said Amy Vincelli, a member of the Owatonna Community Band for 14 years. “We have a little something for everyone,” from marches to concert band pieces to music scores like “Aladdin.”

These concerts “are always diverse,” said Pete Guenther, one of the conductors for the band, along with James Best. “We try to give audiences what they want to hear.”

The music is “more about entertainment than education,” Guenther added. “I always think, ‘What is the audience going to like?’”

In addition to 11@7, this ensemble also kicks off the Steele County Free Fair on opening night, said Guenther, director of bands at Owatonna High School. “It’s an honor to do that.”

“We love playing for the crowd” at venues like the Steele County Free Fair and 11@7 series, said Vincelli, who is on the board of directors for the Owatonna Community Band and in charge of membership and communication for the group. “We step right in, everyone just plays, and we’re off.”

The Owatonna Community Band is “full of such amazing musicians of all levels,” and the roughly 60 members range in age from teens to retirees, Vincelli said. The band, which rehearses May-July, with outdoor concerts throughout the summer, is “entirely volunteer, made up of people from surrounding towns.”

Best, an OHS alumnus, will direct Thursday’s show. In addition to this week, the Owatonna Community Band is slated to perform for the 11@7 series June 27, July 11, and July 25.

For Vincelli, who picked up clarinet in fifth grade and played in college, continuing to perform as an adult in a group like the Owatonna Community Band is special, she said. “I love music, and it’s great to keep up with playing.”

“We’re really blessed in this community,” she added. “Music has such a way of bringing people together,” expressing “feelings we can’t communicate in words,” and it “truly connects us all, no matter your age.”

Reach Reporter Ryan Anderson at 507-444-2376 or follow him on Twitter @randerson_ryan.

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