Mankato Area Community Band celebrates 100 years

·2 min read

Jun. 23—When Bryce Stenzel was 14 years old, his love for playing trombone inspired him to join the Mankato Area Community Band, previously known as Mankato Area Municipal Band.

Fast forward roughly 40 years later. Stenzel, now 55, is not only a better musician since joining, but proudly holds the title of president of the band, which is celebrating its 100 year anniversary next week.

To celebrate, the band — running entirely on community support, donations and grants since 2006 — is hosting a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Lincoln Park. The concert will also be a patriotic tribute in honor of Independence Day coming up.

The concert will open with remarks from Mankato Mayor Najwa Massad, who will read the proclamation that designated June 28 as Mankato Area Community Band Day.

The American Legion Post will then present the American flag during the Star Spangled Banner, followed by the Ukrainian national anthem.

The band's concert repertoire is full of familiar patriotic songs such as "America the Beautiful" and "You're a Grand Old Flag," with attendees invited to sing along. The concert will close with its signature finale "The Stars and Stripes Forever," which will be accompanied by past conductor Edward Stock, who will be coming down from Canada for the event.

During the event, attendees can purchase a first-of-its-kind, hardcover, coffee table book all about the history of the band from 1922 to 2022 for $25, written by Stenzel.

"We'll have tables where they can sign up to receive a copy once the book is done and printed," he said. "There will be lots of pictures in it from years ago."

The book is titled "And the Band Played On, Centennial History of the Mankato Area Community Band, 1922 to 2022," which Stenzel joked was a long yet informative title.

"It's amazing that this band has lasted as long as it has when you consider all the changes that have taken place in the world, as well as here at home, since 1922," he said.

From forming shortly after coming out of the Spanish Flu pandemic, surviving a World War and a few others, enduring the shifting social scenes of the 60's and 70's, and the emerging music styles of the 80's and 90's, to witnessing the tragedy of 9/11, the birth of an entirely new generation and enduring yet another worldwide pandemic, the band has seen it all. And plays on anyway.

"It's a cause for celebration," Stenzel said.

Barb Dunker, who has been with the band since 2007, agrees.

"Anything that makes it to 100 years should be celebrated," the featured vocalist said.

Dunker's late father used to play for the band back in the 60's. She said he would fill in on drums whenever they needed him to.

"He would have loved this," Dunker said about the celebration. "We all do."