Farewell Favorites: Concert Features Songs With Special Meaning to Caesar | Education
The bands from Litchfield High School bid farewell with music on Friday night at the Bernie Aaker Auditorium.
The spring concert turned into something of a musical salute to teacher and band manager David Caesar, who announced about a month ago that he would be leaving the program he has led for the past 21 years at the end of of this school year.
Although Caesar will stay during marching band season and lead the jazz band in their performance this Friday at Lake Ripley, the spring concert was his last to lead the full band in an official performance.
He admitted a whirlwind of emotions as he added commentary between songs performed by the college band and the wind ensemble. Some of those comments included an explanation of why and how he chose certain numbers for Friday’s gig – like “The Great Locomotive Chase” being a melodious illustration of his longtime model train hobby, and “With Every Sunrise”, a composition by Robert Sheldon, providing the appropriate bittersweet score for the upcoming transition for Caesar and the LHS tape schedule.
“God has opened a new door,” Caesar said, “that I have to walk through,” and while change may be difficult, even sad, he believes the band’s program will be in good hands with the announced hiring of Bailey Benoit, a Sauk graduate of Rapids-Rice High School, who will spend the summer marching band season watching and learning from him.
As well as some tearful farewells to Caesar – including a handmade card signed by members of the college band and presented to him at the end of their performance – the concert offered the opportunity to highlight some of the outstanding talents of the group program.
Seniors Greta Hulterstrum, Keegan Kuhns and Ethan Johnson received special awards at the concert.
Hulterstrum received the John Philip Sousa Award for superior musicianship and exceptional dedication. She then performed solo with flute and piccolo in the wind ensemble’s performance of Stephen Bulla’s “Rhapsody for Flute”.
Both Kuhns and Johnson received the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award.
Kuhns also received the Semper Fidelis Award for Musical Excellence, presented by Marine Sergeant. William Johnson. The award honors distinguished members of the high school band for their musical achievements and leadership, Johnson explained, while giving a brief history of the Marine band’s history.
Shortly after receiving the Semper Fidelis Award, Kuhns took control of the wind ensemble as he performed a composition he wrote, “A Rift in the Clouds”.
In addition to “The Great Locomotive Chase”, the college band performed “The Valiant” and “Under the Irish Sky”, while the wind ensemble performed “West Side Story”, “Schindler’s List” and “Rhapsody for Flute”.
And among the serious music, César and the wind ensemble found time for a bit of levity with a performance of “The Typewriter” by American composer Leroy Anderson, during which principal percussionist and drum major Elijah Schacherer “played” a typewriter as a percussion instrument. .
As the concert ended after a few promises from Caesar that “I’m not going to cry”, there were indeed a few tears, as well as smiles, as band members, parents and other audience members s lingered to offer him thanks and best wishes in his future projects.