The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 26, 2012

Best of the best: US Army Field Band playing free concert at Gustavus

Hilary Urban
Special to The Free Press

ST PETER — For many years, Gustavus Adolphus College has been trying to get the United States Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus to campus.

Now, it’s happening.

The U.S. Army Field Band will be giving a free performance 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Christ Chapel on the Gustavus campus. The performance is free and open to the public.

Col. Timothy J. Holtan will direct these “musical ambassadors” who have traveled the world and are known to be the best of the best.

“It doesn’t get better than this,” said Al Behrends, Gustavus’ director of fine arts.

Gustavus officials have discussed bringing the Army Field Band and Soldiers Chorus to Gustavus for about a decade. But the group is in high demand, booking several years in advance, and schedules have not meshed until this year.

Organizers said the concert will be a great opportunity for communities to see just how talented the band is. They represent the best musicians in the military.

Douglas Nimmo has been asked to serve as a guest conductor for a piece in the performance along with eight chosen members of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra.

Coincidentally, Nimmo and Col. Holtan have a previous connection. After it was decided that the U.S. Army Field Band would perform at Gustavus college, the two directors realized they were teaching colleagues early in their careers in Montana with Nimmo teaching at Havre and Holtan in Great Falls.

“He is a world-class conductor,” Nimmo said of Holtan.

This will not be Nimmo’s first time appearing as guest conductor for the U.S. Army Field Band. He had a similar opportunity at the American Band Masters Conference and said he looks forward to another.

“I am really thrilled and delighted that my students and people in this region get to hear what is the premiere ensemble in the world.” Nimmo said.

Col. Holtan, who has been conducting as an Army band’s officer for nearly 24 years, began this position in 2011.

“I feel very fortunate that I've been given an opportunity to work with amazing musicians, and also serve my country,” Holtan said.

Col. Holtan is carrying on family tradition by being involved with a military band; both his father and brother served in Army bands in the past.

“I never expected to serve in the Army as they did, but when the opportunity presented itself, I was very proud to continue my family’s connection with Army music,” Holtan explained.

The U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus spends 100 days a year traveling across the country to perform.

“By performing these concerts, it is my hope that the excellence found across America's Army is evident in the music in our musicians,” Holtan said about connecting the Army to the American people.

One thousand tickets were made available for the performance, but Behrends said no one will be turned away.