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Music honors band member

Kimberly Nicoletti
The Summit Concert Band performs at an August ice cream social in Frisco's Historic Park.
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SILVERTHORNE – The Summit Concert Band has come a long way since its start on the back of a flat-bed truck on a cold January day in 1982.

Since its debut at the Ullr parade, the band has grown to include 30 members who perform about 10 concerts a year in Summit, Grand and Park counties. Its members include teachers, students, retirees, mechanics and accountants whose musical background varies from high school band experience to playing with the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

On Thursday, the band will honor one of its musicians, Gene Bridges, who died last spring.

Bridges split his time between Summit County and Denver, playing with the Summit Concert Band and Denver’s John Phillip Sousa Band. He learned to play the clarinet in the 1950s, then put it down for 40 years once he realized he wouldn’t make a living at it.

But, after 40 years, the idea of playing just for fun gave him another reason to pick up the clarinet again.

“He was a blessing,” said Maddie Levinson, vice president of the Summit Concert Band. “He was such a warm-hearted guy. He was one of the sweetest men I knew, and I think he’s going to get a real kick out of being with us (in spirit) when we play with the Sousa band.”

The John Phillip Sousa Band is more than 100 years old – one of the oldest bands in Denver. The band focuses on Sousa marches, created by American composer John Phillip Sousa (1894-1932).

Sousa’s introduction to the military – and, hence, marches and patriotism – came at an early age. When he was 13, his father enlisted him in the Marines as an apprentice after Sousa tried to run away to join a circus band. Twenty-five years later, he performed his first Sousa Band concert in New Jersey. By the early 1900s, the band toured worldwide, performing Sousa’s music, which included “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

The two bands will play “Into the Light” in honor of Bridges, as well as a variety of tunes the Summit Concert Band played throughout the summer and at Oktoberfests. The music includes polkas, Spanish marches and tone poems.

“We’re a melting pot,” Levinson said of the Summit Concert Band. “We do a little of everything.”

The free concert starts at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Silverthorne Pavilion.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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