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Compton Heights Concert Band

There's nothing like a rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" to make your heart leap, especially when the authentic Civil War cannons go off in the final few minutes. When it comes to performing the music of yesteryear, the Compton Heights Concert Band doesn't half-step. The 2000 Summer Series marked the 21st year the band has delighted St. Louisans with free evening concerts, Sundays at Francis Park and Mondays at Tower Grove Park. The band's mission, avowed by founder Harry Swanger, is to "promote the American concert band, the unique art form created by Patrick Gilmore in the 1860s and perfected by John Philip Sousa at the turn of the last century." And this they do exceedingly well, with so much verve and fanfare emanating from the gazebo that it's the perfect summer concert under the open sky -- an old-timey, flag-waving affair with folks on lawn chairs and benches tapping toes to the "Colonel Bogey March" and "Stars and Stripes Forever." To their great credit, the band brings in a diverse selection of world-class guest artists such as Buckwheat Zydeco; Alex Klein, principal oboist with the Chicago Symphony; and Keith Brion, world-renowned Sousa portrayer. Edward Dolbashian conducts. There are openings in all sections; to audition for the band, call 314-776-2227.

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