BHS band celebrates 100 years | Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Schools
May 7, 2024

BHS band celebrates 100 years

Centennial concert draws former staff, students

“Although a band had long been a desire of Buffalo High School, it was not until the fall of 1923 that this dream was realized. Then, under the leadership of Mr. Melby, a band was organized ... We now have the material, and a capable leader - all that is necessary is hard work.”

So began the story of the BHS band program, as recorded in the 1924 BHS yearbook. 

Last Thursday, May 2, students in three large ensembles and Director Scott Rabehl put a triumphant accent on 100 years music with the program’s Centennial Band Concert. The Repertory, Varsity and Concert bands took turns entertaining an enthusiastic near-capacity crowd in the Performing Arts Center before combining forces for the grand finale, the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

“There are a lot of people here tonight. I think that’s just terrific,” Rabehl said near the opening of the concert. “It speaks to the importance of this program in the lives of all our people.”

Throughout the evening, Rabehl thanked those who have led and supported the band program over the years. Several past high school directors, including Lee Kjesbo, Alison Haseman, Mike Knutson and Rolf Mohwinkle, attended the program. 

“I look at some of my younger colleagues over here, and some of my older colleagues,” Rabehl said in recognizing current and former music teachers in the district. “It’s lineage. Your sounds are up here.”

Mohwinkle, who was the longest-serving director from 1970-1993, returned to the stage to direct the Concert Band in “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Rabehl introduced Mohwinkle as the program’s “great-grand-director” and “patriarch.”

“I am happy and proud and enthused to be in front of a group like this and be in front of the whole band program,” Mohwinkle told the audience before taking the podium. “I’ve been around a while and I’ve heard lots of (band programs). This is one of the finest in the state of Minnesota. You have to be very, very proud of this.”

In addition, the oldest known alumnus of the band, Lucille Decker, sat in the front row and was recognized by Rabehl and the audience during the program. Decker played trombone from 1937 through 1941, and said her favorite memories were time spent with friends, the performances, and marching events.

Another highlight of the evening came when the Concert Band performed the world premiere of “Winter’s Revel,” which was commission by the BHS band program to commemorate its centennial. Composer Erika Svanoe, a favorite of the program, said that the inspiration for the music came from “the trust, playfulness, joy and sense of community” that she witnessed in the BHS band room.  

The evening closed with many former alumni gathering on the steps of the auditorium for a photo. 

•    Anyone who would like to view a video of the concert is able to do so at

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