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Bully for music: Military, high school bands pair up

Alexandria Area High School band teacher Casey Skalbeck is a member of the 34th Infantry Division Red Bull Band, which will be performing with the high school band on Saturday, Feb. 17. (Contributed)1 / 2
Casey Skalbeck will begin his new position as the Alexandria Area High School band director this fall after teaching for two years in Hancock Schools. (Contributed) 2 / 2

Alexandria Area High School band teacher Casey Skalbeck will be pulling double duty at an upcoming concert — both as a band member and a band director.

Skalbeck, a member of the National Guard, plays brass with the 34th Infantry Division Red Bull Band based in Rosemount. The Red Bull Band will perform with the high school's symphonic band and wind ensemble on Saturday, Feb. 17.

Skalbeck has been a Red Bull member for five years and plays low brass instruments such as the tuba and trombone for the band.

"All these musicians are professional level musicians," Skalbeck said. "They had to audition to get into this group. ... It's a very high quality group."

At the concert, the high school symphonic band will perform "Skyfall" with the Red Bull Band, while the wind ensemble will perform "American Salute" with them.

"It (American Salute) is a very difficult piece and demands a lot of technical skill," Skalbeck said. "So they (students) are looking forward to being able to play with those players and hear what it's going to sound like at a professional level."

Both bands will play individually as well. There will also be a veteran salute to all current and former service members.

Skalbeck will be playing in the band, as well as sharing conducting duties with Red Bull Band commander Jim Baxter.

This will be the first time the group has performed with a high school band, Skalbeck says.

"We're hoping to collaborate with other high schools throughout the state and get out to Greater Minnesota and share music with them," Skalbeck said. "This is kind of the pilot run of that."

The concert will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17 in the Performing Arts Center at the high school. It is free and open to the public.

"I hope that we can fill up the auditorium," Skalbeck said. "It's definitely the highest quality band group that we've had in this area for quite some time as far as a full concert band goes. So if that's something people are interested in, this is definitely a concert they should come to."

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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