Summit Concert Band presents ‘Ayres, Dances and Old Bits’ in Dillon |

Summit Concert Band presents ‘Ayres, Dances and Old Bits’ in Dillon

Story and photos by Eli Pace

If you go

What: Summer Concert Band presents “Ayres, Dances & Old Bits”

When: 6 p.m. Feb. 19, Presidents Day

Where: Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church, 56 US 6 in Dillon.

Info: The band is directed by Lt. Col. (Ret.) Beth Steele, and the free concert will feature guest conductors Graham O. Jones and Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Mike McGhee. For more information, go to

If British band conductor Graham Jones doesn’t like what he hears, he brings the music to a screeching halt, dissects the piece and diagnoses what he believes is the problem.

When it’s all to the maestro’s liking, he picks up where they left off, and the band plays on. It’s a rehearsal. That’s how things work.

After a day on the slopes, Jones popped in on the Summit Concert Band’s rehearsal Thursday night at Summit High School to go over a handful of numbers with the group of musicians, ranging in from 13 to 84 years old, though most of them are older adults. The nighttime practice came in preparation of the band’s Presidents Day performance in Dillon, in which Jones is to serve as one of the guest conductors.

During the rehearsal, it was clear the selections are a work in progress.

“We’re giving it a little shape, a little interest,” Jones told the band at one point Thursday night. “Remember how delicate it is here.”

Speaking in a light accent, Jones was quick, witty and personable. However, when it came to the music, he was uncompromising and relentless in his pursuit of perfection.

After the rehearsal, Jones said he sees every note of every line as a piece of a complete phrase — a story or a vision — and the band must understand that to reproduce “the essence” of the music as accurately and as wholly as they can.

When one of the musicians struggled to read the music during the practice, Jones wasn’t having it. “Is that my problem?” he asked. “No.”

When the horns hurried their quavers, Jones told them. “You’re rushing the eighth notes. There’s more space in there than you think.”

Then he made them play it again.

When a section came into the song too late, “You know you can join us,” Jones told them. “We accept saxophones here.”

After the rehearsal, Jones explained that it was all by design. The musicians in that room had all chosen to be there in pursuit of their passion, he said, and while it was his job to tune them up, he wanted to do it in a way that’s fun, inspiring and helpful.

And when they got it right, Jones let them know with a big smile as his conductor’s movements became more and more punctuated.

“Oh, do you feel that? Well played,” Jones yelled after making one of many small corrections. “Now, let’s put everybody together.”

The band’s next performance, “Ayres, Dances and Old Bits,” will be at 6 p.m., Feb. 19, at Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon. For more information about the band, go to For more on Jones, check out his website at

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