Alumni to play at next week’s DUHS Band concert

Published 4:49 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The past and present of the Dowagiac Union High School band are set for a (harmonious) collision next week.

The band program is inviting alumni of the DUHS band program to take stage alongside the school’s concert band Monday evening, during the group’s final concert of the year, which takes place at 7 p.m. at the Middle School Performance Arts Center.

The former students will join the band’s current crop of musicians for a performance of John Philip Sousa’s magnum opus, “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” capping off the concert’s lineup.

The band bringing back the alumni performance of the famed American march after debuting it two years ago, said Band Director C.J. Brooks. Around 20 former band members joined in the rendition that year, including a handful of members who graduated back in the 60s and 70s, Brooks said.

“It’s nice to see all the old cronies again,” the director joked. “I think it’s a nice reason for them to grab their horns and play something together again.”

Around 15 alumni have committed to playing during next week’s concert, including a number of Brooks’ former students, he said.

People who want to participate can practice with the band during one or both rehearsal sessions Monday, one from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. and another from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Alumni are invited to play whatever brass, woodwind or percussion instrument they are most comfortable with, whether it’s what they played in school or something they picked up since, Brooks said.

“We want this to be a stress-free situation for them,” Brooks said.

Normally the song that closes out every spring concert, “The Stars and Stripes Forever” fits in perfectly with this year’s program, “Salute to America.” The band will play a set of different American classics, including marches, Broadway pieces and songs from famous U.S. composers, Brooks said.

“It’s all music we love to perform and that the audience loves to listen to,” he said. “We thought it would be a nice way to close out the year and get ready for summer.”

Monday’s concert will be bittersweet occasion for the veteran band director — it will be his last one with Dowagiac Union Schools, as he steps down at the end of the year to pursue a band directing job overseas. With both current and former students following his baton that evening, it’s going to be an emotional experience, he said.

“It’s exciting that everything is coming to a close, but it’s also sad that it’s our last time all playing together,” Brooks said.

Alumni interested in participating next week can sign up by calling Brooks at (269) 782-4423, emailing him at, or by messaging the band program on Facebook, at Electronic copies of the sheet music will be provided to those who sign up.

“Come out and have a good time, and share the joy of music with fellow alumni,” Brooks said. “It’s a nice way to share each other’s company.”