Band Concert

Tom Miles, pictured playing for the Abilene Municipal Band last summer, will conduct the Heart of America Band concert Sunday.

Story has been edited to correct an error.

Sunday’s Heart of America Band concert promises to be outstanding, said Tom Miles, founder of the band.

Featured will be two “extraordinary” soloists, Laura Fortier, vocalist, and Trevor Duell, trumpeter.

And it will be performed in the “best venue this side of the Lied Center at KU,” Miles said, indicating Abilene High School Auditorium.

Fortier played with the U.S. Army for eight years as a flutist and vocalist. She is a former elementary music teacher at Chapman Elementary School. She will sing “Never Enough” from the movie “The Greatest Showman.”

Duell, a Salina native stationed at Fort Riley, is the best trumpeter Miles said he has heard in 20 years. People who went to the Sundown Concert on Memorial Day may remember Duell from that performance.

He will be featured on “The American Eagle Waltz” composed by Jacques Offenbach.

The composer may be familiar, but that selection may not be, Miles said. He likes to introduce audiences to unusual works by familiar musicians.

“It’s fun to do that,” he said.

Aaron Copeland, for example, is a beloved American composer, but the song “The Promise of Living” from his opera “The Tender Land” is less familiar.

Miles chose “Cyrus the Great Person March,” by his favorite composer, Karl L. King, only second to John Phillip Sousa, because it is “a little off the beaten path,” he said. That march features a lot of bass drum and cymbals and is in a minor key unlike most marches, he said.

Familiar tunes

There will also be some more familiar tunes; the concert will open with “The Star-Spangled Banner” and will close with “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

The audience will be asked to sing along with one of the verses of “God of Our Fathers.”

One of the best parts about the concert, though, is where it will be, Miles said. Founded in 1988, the band has bounced around among 10 different venues, Miles said. He’s been trying to get the band to play in the Abilene High School Auditorium since it was built three years ago.

“I’m really looking forward to this,” he said.


He’s experienced the auditorium as a member of the audience but not yet as a performer.

At the concert, Miles plans to thank the Abilene voters for voting for the bond issue that included the new auditorium.

“They did it right,” he said.

He hopes the move can be permanent.

His best-case scenario is Abilene becoming the home base for the band. The auditorium is the ideal concert hall, he said, and the band can rehearse in the dedicated rehearsal room at the band shell in Eisenhower Park which the Abilene Municipal Band also uses.

“It’s nice to be close to home,” Miles said.

The 73 band members come from 20 different towns as far south as Wichita and as far north as Concordia and Belleville and as far east at Topeka, most invited from north-central Kansas.

The band member ages span 80 years. The youngest, precussionist Braden Adams from Abilene is just 14. Trombonist Bill Robinson, also of Abilene, is 92.

They all do it for the joy of playing in a band, Miles said. “No mileage, no pay, no nothing.”

They do it just to play the “best music for the best people,” he said.

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