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A & E

Two St. Olaf Band members return to DeKalb County during tour

Local students return for performance with St. Olaf Band

DeKALB – Two DeKalb County natives are coming back to their old stomping grounds to perform as members of the St. Olaf Band from the Northfield, Minnesota, school.

The band will play at DeKalb High School as part of its 2018 tour, with other stops in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. Sycamore natives and St. Olaf freshman Madeline Kessler plays euphonium in the band and junior Ben Van Wienen plays trumpet in the band.

Van Wienen said he's looking forward to coming back to the area and sharing music with people he knows back home. He said a lot of his friends and family don't always get the chance to hear the St. Olaf Band, and he's excited and proud to share the band's music with the audience.

"Every night, it's so exciting because you discover something new in the piece, something that speaks to you or something you didn't realize before in the music that is like an 'ah-ha!' moment," Van Wienen said.

Tim Mahr, conductor and composer for St. Olaf Band, said the concert's theme is about celebrating the human spirit. He said the program will feature one of his original works called "Symphony No. 1," which reflects the political state of the country and how it might affect the country's future.

"Through the power of music shared with the audience, I hope to be offering hope in and of itself," Mahr said.

Kessler said she's beyond happy to be coming back to the area to perform and is excited to see her friends and family as well. She said it's been rewarding to perform with a group of such talented musicians within the St. Olaf Band and that rehearsals have been blowing her mind so far.

“You can see in their faces how much they love being there," Kessler said. "It’s just unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.”

The St. Olaf Band has toured nationally since 1904 and internationally since 1906, when they performed a four-week, 30-concert tour of Norway, making them one of the first American collegiate bands to tour Europe, according to a news release. The band has toured several times in Norway, Great Britain, Japan, central Europe, and most recently in Australia and New Zealand this year.

The concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at DeKalb High School, 501 W. Dresser Road, and admission is free for students and $9.99 for adults, with a discount available for groups of 10 or more. Tickets can be purchased at

Van Wienen said he urges people in the area to take advantage of the opportunity to see the band perform while they're in DeKalb County.

"Be in the moment and really absorb what you're hearing, because music is kind of a desperate practice because it's euphoric when it's happening and when it's done, it's gone," Van Wienen said. "You'll never hear it performed the same way again."

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