Creating instrumental greatness together

MLPS instrumentalists join with other Minnesota performers – and composers – for Band Pops Concert



Mountain Lake Public School (MLPS) instrumentalists in grades five-through-12, under the baton of MLPS Instrumental Director Kurt Jahnke, joined with other Minnesota performers, along with composers – including three Mountain Lake Public High School alumni – for the MLPS Band Pops Concert helld Monday evening, May 15, in the MLPS Auditorium.

The end goal for all of the performing musicians was: Creating, Greatness. Together.


You betcha!

Joining the school’s band groups were special guests Connor Engstrom, Vicki Beckendorf, Aaron Petersen, Christian Pfeiffer and Levi Jahnke. The trio of Engstrom, Pfeiffer and Jahnke are graduates of Mountain Lake Public High School. Violinist Beckendorf is lead writer at the Observer/Advocate and Petersen is the Mountain Lake Christian (MLC) Music Director (Band and Choir) for grades Kindergarten-through-12. They, along with Kurt Jahnke, presented Jahnke’s arrangement of “Fragile,” first released by the artist, Sting, in 1987. Sting released the selection as the world was coming to the end of the Cold War, but the lyrics could easily have been written of the world today.

Opening the evening’s program was the 6th Grade Percussion Ensemble with “Can, Can,” by Jacques Offenbach, arranged by Kevin Lepper. The recognizable melody is often associated with a high-kicking dance performance. The number provided the opportunity for the young percussionists to experience independent playing in an ensemble setting.

A 5th Grade-8th Grade Combined Band followed with the band student favorite, “Rock, Roll, Row Your Boat,” by Gerald Sebesky. The fun piece showcased percussionists on drum sets.

The Junior High Percussion Ensemble’s selection, “Rubber Biscuit,” by Chris Crockarell and Chris Brooks, allowed students to perform on marching equipment and hone independent music skills. The group is open to non-percussionists, and again this year has a mix of wind players and percussionists.

Two selections were shared by the Junior High Band, “Shipwrecked,” by Ryan Nowlin and “Mallet Maniacs,” by John O’Reilly. “Shipwrecked” presented the instrumentalists with the opportunity to tackle changing key signatures and perfect ensemble-playing. In “Mallet Maniacs,” several Junior High percussion “maniacs” were featured, including Landon Boldt, Jose Garnica, Sam Stade, Caden Swoboda and Jordan Wright.

The Junior High Jazz Band performed next, also presenting two numbers, “In The Midnight Hour,” arranged by Jerry Nowak and “My Last Nickel,” by Dean Sorenson. “In The Midnight Hour” was made famous by Wilson Pickett in 1966, but was also recorded by Tina Turner in 1988 and Tom Jones in 1997. The jazz instrumentalists successfully tried their hand at a common jazz practice called “improvisation” in the song, “My Last Nickel.”

The Senior High Jazz Band was next with “Sway,” arranged by John Berry and “After Sunset,” by Larry Neeck. “Sway” was released in 2003 by Michael Bublé, but was also recorded by Dean Martin in 1954. “After Sunset” featured Mountain Lake Public High School senior – and alto saxophonist – Sam Hirsch on the ballad.

The Senior High Band presented three pieces after the performance by the evening’s special guests. They include, “April,” by Aaron Perrine; “Dreams Of Fireflies,” by P. O’Neill and arranged by Phillips and Megaw and “Prince In Concert,” composed by Prince and arranged by P. Murtha. “April” was written by McGregor, Minnesota native Aaron Perrine, who earned his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Minnesota-Morris, and taught for a time as a Music Educator in Minnesota. He currently serves on the Music Faculty at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. “April” was commissioned by Farmington (Minnesota) Middle School and was one of the Senior High Band’s large group contest pieces earlier this year. The composer for “Dreams of Fireflies,” Paul O’Neill, is the founder, guitarist and producer for the progressive rock band, Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This piece featured Connor Engstrom and Vicki Beckendorf, and quotes melodies from Vivaldi’s “Winter” (from The Four Seasons) and Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” The Prince pieces saluted Minnesota’s Prince Rogers Nelson, who was born in Minneapolis and passed away at his home in Chanhassen in 2016. “Prince In Concert” showcased several of his most famous tunes: “1999,” “When Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”

A rousing rendition of “Shimi, Shami, Shang,” by Chris Crockarell, was the Senior High Percussion Ensemble’s presented selection.

Closing out the concert was the 7th Grade-12th Grade Combined Band – and the group’s two numbers – “Good Time,” by Owl City (a band that hails from Owatonna), arranged by Doug Adams and “Seven Nation Army,” arranged by Dallas Burke, and highlighted Connor Engstrom, along with Christian Pfeiffer and Levi Jahnke.

Recognized were this year’s senior band performers: Liana Blomgren, Aaron Fast, Andrew Fast, Samuel Grev, Samuel Hirsch, Jaden Hoek, Shadrick Hoek, Emily Jahnke, Lily Kauffman, Dylan Krueger, Nathan Regier, Kalley Rempel, Karen Soutthivong, Brook Sunderman, Hamlock Tanyavong and Kassandra Tellez.

The MLPS Band (#MLPSband) was also live on Twitter during the concert.

Following is a photo gallery from the concert:


FEATURED GUEST MUSICIANS at the Monday evening Mountain Lake Public School (MLPS) Band Pops concert included, from left, Connor Engstrom on guitar, Vicki Beckendorf as violinist, Christian Pfeiffer playing the tenor sax, Levi Jahnke on trumpet and Aaron Petersen performing on the djembe drum (the djembe is a rope-tuned, skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands, originally from West Africa). At back is Kurt Jahnke on keyboard. The six presented the elder Jahnke’s arrangement of “Fragile,” first released by the artist, Sting, in 1987. Sting released the selection as the world was coming to the end of the Cold War, but the lyrics could easily have been written of the world today.


THE 6TH GRADE Band opened the Pops Concert with the selection, “Can, Can.” Above Mason Fast on cymbals. Additional group members included Meesha Hoek, Devyn Rempel, Johnna Gardiner, Zazaanahi Ornelas and Director Kurt Jahnke. A 5th Grade-8th Grade Combined Band followed with “Rock, Roll, Row Your Boat,” 


THREE OF THE four members of the Junior High Percussion Ensemble. From left, Daniel Gardiner, Caden Swoboda and Sebastian Rehnelt. Not pictured is Noah Rempel (on the bass drum). The group shared the song, “Rubber Biscuit.”


JUNIOR HIGH BAND percussionist Sam Stade puts mallets to chimes at the opening of the group’s first song, “Shipwrecked.”


DIRECTOR KURT JAHNKE leads the Junior High Band. Front, from left, on clarinet, Kiana Peters, Alina Inthamthirath and Sierra Perkins and flutists Madison Hartle and Olivia Klassen. Back, from left, Harlan Munning on saxophone, trumpets Kaiya Sayavong and Sebastian Rehnelt and Ben Bartsch, saxophonist. Back, from left, baritones, Chandlor Phoulom, Thavien Xayachak, Noah Rempel and Baylee Jepsen and on trombone, Hana Bergling and Annelise Regier.
JUNIOR HIGH BAND members. Front, flutists Sabrina Hanson, left and Anika Fast, right. Middle, on saxophone, Hope Doll and on flute, Wendy Tema-Lopez. Back, from left, trombonists Kade Wassman, Ian Penner and Kaden Haberman.



LANDON BOLDT PROVIDED deep, heartbeat-skipping percussion sound on the timpani, or kettle drums for the Junior High Band.


THE JUNIOR HIGH Band’s percussion section had the spotlight in the band’s second song, “Mallet Maniacs.” From left, Jordan Wright, Jose Garnica, Sam State, Landon Boldt and Caden Swoboda.


TWO SELECTIONS WERE performed by the Junior High Jazz Band – “My Last Nickel” and “In The Midnight Hour.” Front, from left, on saxophone, Sierra Perkins and Alana Morey; Noah Rempel on baritone and Daniel Gardiner, on bass saxophone. Back, from left, Harlan Munning on alto sax, trombonist Kade Wassman, Brooke Naas on trumpet, Olivia Klassen as keyboardist, Sebastian Rehnelt on trumpet, Johnna Gardiner at the drum set, Director Kurt Jahnke playing the alto sax and Devyn Rempel tapping the bongo drums.


THE SENIOR HIGH Jazz Band followed their underclassmen counterparts, also performing a pair of numbers, “Sway” and “After Sunset.” At front is Director Kurt Jahnke. Seated front, from left, Amy Bartsch, saxophone; Karen Soutthivong, clarinet and Sam Hirsch, Yahayra Sanchez and Braden Rempel. Back, from left, Isaac Grev, electric guitar; Joel Salgado, Sam Grev and Liana Blomgren, trombonists; Kalley Rempel, Kayla Vonk and Ryan Blomgren, trumpets and Ethan Klassen on drum set.


FEATURED MUSICIAN ON the Senior High Jazz Band’s “After Sunset” performance was senior Sam Hirsch. At the Fine Arts Awards Program, Hirsch was presented the John Philip Sousa Award. Here is a link to an article about the program:


VIOLINIST VICKI BECKENDORF, front, joined the Senior High Band for the Aaron Perrine number, “April.” Senior High Band members at back – in addition to Director Kurt Jahnke – include, front, from left, saxophones Andrew Fast, Yahayra Sanchez and Anna Kirk, along with clarinets, Karen Soutthivong, David Larson and Jennel Rodney. Back, from left, Kayla Vonk; on clarinet, Aleesha Jepsen, Victoria Hofmann, Amy Bartsch and Laura Dalton, and saxophonists, McKinley DeVries and Joey Baldone.


SENIOR PERCUSSIONIST JADEN Hoek rocks it on the drum set during the Senior High Band’s presentation of a collection of Prince hits, comprised by the late artist himself, “Prince In Concert.


SENIOR HIGH BAND sounds – ranging from sweet flute to roiling tuba. Flutists in the front row are, from left, Bileigh Anacker, Emma Stade, Caitlyn Johnson and Madison Dahna. Trombones in the middle include, from left, Brooke Naas, Regan Syverson, Adam Karschnik and Neramith Phoulom. At back, Thomas Regier on baritone and the tubas – Dima Hanson and Isaac Grev.
ZACH SPINKS ON the timpani for the Senior High Band.


BIG BRASS SOUND from this quartet of trumpets. From left, Kalley Rempel, Jeff Wright, Michael Watkins and Aaron Fast. Rempel and Fast are seniors.


BASS CLEF HORNS – trombones and baritones. Front, from left, trombonists Dylan Krueger, Liana Blomgren and Taylor Naas. Back, the baritones, from left, Fletcher Hanson, Junior Loungsaphakady and ?? Regier. Krueger and Blomgren are members of the graduating Class of 2017.


VICKI BECKENDORF, VIOLINIST at front, and Connor Engstrom on electric guitar, performed along with the Senior High Band, led by Director Kurt Jahnke, on “Dreams Of Fireflies” and “Prince In Concert.” Band members include, from left, Andrew Fast, Yahayra Sanchez, Anna Kirk, Karen Soutthivong (behind Jahnke), David Larson, Jenneel Rodney and Madison Schroeder.


CLARINETS AND TRUMPETS together. Front, Amy Bartsch, left and Laura Dalton, right. Back, Nathan Regier, left and Shadrick Hoek, right. Regier and Hoek are set to graduate from MLHS on Friday, May 26.


“SHIMI, SHAMI, SHANG,” loud percussion sound produced by the Senior High Percussion Ensemble. Front, Braden Rempel, left and David Larson, right. Back, from left, Kayla Vonk, Jae Faber, Regan Syverson, Ethan Klassen, Regan Syverson, Joel Salgado and Bileigh Anacker.


GRADES 7 THROUGH 12 combined to close out the program with a pair of songs, “Good Time” and “Seven Nation Army. The joint group of musicians even stretched out to each wing of the stage; the entire band not able to be captured by the camera. Adding to the production were Connor Engstrom on electric guitar, at front, and at back left, Christian Pfeiffer on tenor sax and Levi Jahnke, on trumpet.



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