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Pine River-Backus band achieves high honors

Echo Journal file photo.

The Pine River-Backus Band Department has had a successful year.

The high school band received a superior rating at the state large group contest in February for the first time since 2016 by playing a band transcription of the "1812 Overture" by Tchaikovsky.

Along with multiple solo and ensemble successes, PR-B students participated in honor bands at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, St. Olaf College in Northfield, Bemidji State University, The Minnesota Band Directors Association Honor Festival, Beginning Band Festival and Honor Jazz Festival, in which PR-B students were chosen as the lead players in three of the four respective sections.

The PR-B Jazz Ensemble also received a superior rating at the sub-section contest in April and, for the first time in multiple years, received a superior rating at the state contest Saturday, May 4, in Fergus Falls.

"In my five years at PR-B, I can say that this was the funnest, busiest and most successful years and what is really special is the youth in the program," band director Ben Kinser said in an email. "About 80% of the top concert band are freshmen and sophomores, which bodes well for the upcoming years. I would also like to make mention of Katie Hanneken, who was selected as Best at Site on her baritone solo this past weekend and also would like to thank our only graduating senior, Emma Templeton. Despite some bumps in the road, she has been dedicated to the program and her footprint will be felt for years to come. I thank all of my students for their effort, dedication, excellence and musicianship and I am truly blessed to be able to stand in front of them each day and be PR-B proud."

Accolades from the May 4 contest include the following.

• Excellent ratings: Jordan Cunningham for a trumpet solo; Emma Barchus for alto sax.

• Superior ratings: Cunningham, Olivia Adkins, Cecilia Sechser, Keenan Dahl and Ayden Egberts for brass quintet; Malachi Wipper for trumpet solo; Hanneken for baritone solo; the whole jazz band; Adkins; Cunningham; Joe Zaczkowski; Wipper; Keenan Dahl; Egberts; Barchus; Claire Dahl; George Davidson; Nolan Oliver; Danny Irish; and Ashley Shamp.

The final band concert will be Tuesday, May 21, with the final choir concert Wednesday, May 22, both in the high school performance gym.

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