Eric Wells, of Clover, S.C., plays tuba for the hymn 'God of My Fathers' at an American Band College rehearsal in Ashland. - Jim Craven

American Band College returns

The American Band College Band returns to Southern Oregon for its annual summer concert. The program this year is called "Kitty O'Shea's at the Crate," featuring the world premiere of the commissioned work "At Kitty O'Shea's."

The show is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 26, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theatre, 21 S. Central Ave., Medford.

The ABC Band includes two 110-member bands composed of band directors from 40 states and five countries. Most of the directors are enrolled in the ABC, a master's program that was previously based at Southern Oregon University, but which now operates as a distance learning program through Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

Besides its online classes and exams, the three-year program requires students to attend two sessions each summer in Ashland. The first session, June 21-26, culminates with the Craterian concert. The second session, June 29 through July 4, culminates with the annual July 4 Ashland Fireworks Concert.

This year's guest conductors for the program at the Craterian are Frank Wickes, Bruce Dinkins and Dutch composer Johan de Meij. The guest soloist will be saxophonist Scott Plugge.

The concert will be split between both bands and conclude with de Meij's work, "At Kitty O'Shea's." This work was commissioned by the ABC and will feature six Irish tunes. The 16-minute piece will end with a free-for-all of many famous jigs and reels played with traditional Irish instruments, says Max McKee, founder of the ABC.

The two bands will be joined by the ABC Jazz Ensemble for their annual July 4 Fireworks Concert, to be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Ashland High School Football Stadium. Guest conductors are Mike Bankhead, Paula Crider and Tim Lautzenheiser. The performance also will feature guest soloist and trombonist Harry Watters.

The July 4 show will be a tribute to American composer Irving Berlin, featuring such favorites as "God Bless America" and "White Christmas."

"It's ancient music, but it's stayed popular until today because it's so well written," says McKee.

A narration and corresponding video will accompany the set.

Following the tribute, the band will perform 30 minutes of marches, Americana and Irving Berlin tunes to accompany the Ashland fireworks display overhead.

Tickets for the Craterian concert are $18, $13 for seniors, $7 for children younger than 12. Tickets are available online at www.bandworld.org, at Cripple Creek Music in Ashland and through the Craterian box office at 541-779-3000.

Tickets for the Fourth of July concert are $18, $13 for seniors and free for children younger than 12. They're available at www.bandworld.org, Cripple Creek Music and at the door.

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