Music is a vocation for David Elmhirst. He is band director at Wayzata High School. He enjoys his students and the academic setting. But much of his work involves organization, lesson plans and grading. So when a trumpet player friend from Plymouth wanted to start a band and came looking for a conductor, Elmhirst jumped on board.
The Plymouth Concert Band will celebrate its 15th anniversary this year. Elmhirst was hired as music director in 1998 and leads band rehearsals at Wayzata High School on most Monday nights. The band performs 4–5 concerts throughout the school year and 4–5 outdoor concerts in and around Plymouth during the summer months.
The approximately 60 band members come from the Plymouth area and as far as Shakopee, St. Paul and northern cities. Elmhirst says, “There are other bands like us around, but we are unique in that we play a challenging repertoire oriented toward the players. The musicians like the music we play but it’s also audience friendly. We’re not a super serious group but we do look for quality and do so by audition. That ensures that we find people with skill levels that match the group.”
Bass clarinet player Bob Doan has been with the Plymouth Concert Band since shortly after its inception. “I hadn’t played in a long time,” Doan says, “but I’ve sung in church for more than 50 years. I played the B-flat clarinet in high school and college, but didn’t play again until my grandkids started playing in band around 1996. The companionship among the Plymouth Concert Band members is the best part. There are strong friendships among the players and with David, but we also are very good musically and David is a very imaginative programmer. He was an engineer before becoming a music teacher and has managed to incorporate interesting multimedia into our performances.”
Doan is a semi-retired physician and also plays clarinet for the Synod Senior Band. He says, “The senior band has played at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. I encourage those folks to check out the Plymouth Concert Band when we play at Wayzata High School. It’s an accessible facility and the music is pretty good.”
Teresa Cobb has been playing flute since the fifth grade and has been with Plymouth Concert Band almost as long as Doan. For a single mother who works two jobs, playing in the band is Cobb’s primary creative outlet. “It’s a very professional group,” Cobb says. “My participation compliments my work. I’m Pastor of Children, Youth and Families at Mapleridge Church in Maple Grove where I encourage church members to use their musical talents. But I especially enjoy the challenge and the different types of music that we play in the Plymouth Concert Band. We’ve had some great guest artists and visual elements like Minnesota Orchestra trumpet player Charles Lazarus and a phenomenal pianist, Nachito Herrera. There have also been jugglers and Japanese drummers.
“We’ve also done outreach concerts alongside high school bands and awarded scholarships to high school musicians,” she says. “The idea is that music can provide lifelong enjoyment for people.”
Plymouth Concert Band trumpet player Rich Frevert agrees. “Anyone thinking of playing their instrument again should do it. It’s never too late,” he says. Frevert has played trumpet for 45 years and has been with the band since 2000. He teaches trumpet lessons and does the occasional church gig. He’s also president of Heartland Concert Artists, a booking agency for musicians.
“I didn’t play much in the 1980s and 1990s,” Frevert says. “There are stories all over the band of people who put down their instrument for 10 or 20 years—and yet here we are, a fine group that stacks up pretty well against other bands.”
Plymouth Concert Band performance
7:30 p.m. May 4
Wayzata High School auditorium
Guest artist: Minnesota Orchestra trumpet player Charles Lazarus of Wayzata