Dr. Frank Bencriscutto Celebration Concerts, 4/25 and 4/26

Frank Bencriscutto

Don't miss the Dr. Frank Bencriscutto Celebration Concerts!

Thursday, April 25: Video Feature at 7 pm and Symphonic Band Concert at 7:30 pm
Friday, April 26: Video Feature at 7 pm and Wind Ensemble Concert at 7:30 pm 

View program

Arrive early to see photos and memorabilia from the Dr. Ben era and the international tours. Both events will feature Stan Freese as emcee. Russell Pesola is the guest speaker on April 26. 

Symphonic Band Concert: Celebrating Dr. Frank Bencriscutto and the China Tour (1980)
Thursday, April 25 at 7:30 pm | Ted Mann Concert Hall
Program to include Andreas Makris/Bader’s Aegean Festival Overture; John Zdechlik’s Chorale and Shaker Dance, Yu Jianfang’s Eulogize the Yangtze, and J.P. Sousa’s Stars and Stripes. Pianist Sofia Mycyk, winner of the 2018-19 University of Minnesota Bands Concerto Competition, will perform Concerto for Piano and Wind Octet by Colin McPhee. Jerry Luckhardt, conductor; Emily Threinen, guest conductor; and J. Nick Smith, graduate conductor. This event will be live streamed

Wind Ensemble Concert: Celebrating Dr. Bencriscutto & 50th Anniversary of the Soviet Union Tour (1969)
Friday, April 26 at 7:30 pm | Ted Mann Concert Hall
Program to include Ron Nelson’s Rocky Point Holiday; Silvestre Revueltas’s Sensemayá, R. 67;David Maslanka’s Traveler; Sousa’s Minnesota March; Mussorgsky/Ravel/Lavender’s “The Great Gate of Kiev” from Pictures at an Exhibition; and Truman Rickard’s Hail! Minnesota. Bassoonist Ariel Detwiler, winner of the 2018-19 University of Minnesota Bands Concerto Competition, will perform Concerto for Bassoon and Wind Ensemble by Eric Ewazen. Emily Threinen, conductor; Jerry Luckhardt, guest conductor; Cassandra Bechard and J. Nick Smith, graduate conductors. This event will be live streamed.

The Legacy of "Dr. Ben"

Director of Bands Emeritus Craig Kirchhoff states, “Frank Bencriscutto was a pioneer as a collegiate wind band conductor, as a performing artist, and as a composer/arranger whose impact is still being felt today. It is entirely fitting to honor his legacy with these two concerts in Ted Mann Concert Hall.”
Director of Bands Emily Threinen shares, “Dr. Bencriscutto is remembered fondly in the hearts of many. He is remembered and admired for his loving spirit toward music and toward those he worked with, his enthusiasm for band and its place in the concert hall and community spaces, his work as a composer through creating original pieces and transcriptions that are now acclaimed in the medium, his care for music education and the growth of bands in the Minnesota community, and his tireless efforts on traveling with University of Minnesota student musicians on tours across the globe. As the University of Minnesota Director of Bands for over 30 years, Dr. Bencriscutto’s influence is remarkable. He helped grow the program into one of the leading university band programs in the country. All directors who have contributed to the program during and after his tenure deeply appreciate Dr. Bencriscutto’s leadership, talent, passion, and service.”


Dr. Frank Bencriscutto (1928-1997) studied at the University of Wisconsin, Northwestern University, and the Eastman School of Music, where he received his doctorate in 1960. During his 32-year tenure at the University of Minnesota, his concert band played at many state and national conventions. He became well-known nationally for his many compositions for concert band, as well as his band method book Total Musicianship (1983). As a result of the success of a seven-week tour throughout the former U.S.S.R. in the spring of 1969, Dmitri Shostakovich, on behalf of the Soviet government, invited Dr. Bencriscutto to be the honored guest of the Soviet Union during the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in June 1970. In 1980, he enjoyed the privilege of conducting the Wind Ensemble during a tour of the People’s Republic of China. This was the first American concert band to tour China. Bencriscutto was elected to the American Bandmasters Association in 1966. His work “Sing a New Song” (1973) won the Neil A. Kjos Memorial Award for the most significant contribution to band literature. He received the Edwin Franko Goldman Award from the American School Band Directors Association in 1993, and in 1997, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor at the Midwest Clinic.

Minnesota-born Stanford (Stan) Freese is a renowned tuba soloist, entertainer, and Director of Bands for Disney Corporation. His illustrious career began at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Ben and the U.S. Cultural Exchange Department in Washington D.C. selected Stan to be the tuba soloist on both the Russian and China tours. It was his engaging and entertaining performances on the seven-week tour of the Soviet Union and for President Nixon at the White House that attracted national publicity and the attention of the Disney Corporation. Stan Freese began his career in 1971 as the first leader of the Walt Disney World band in Orlando, FL, three years later he became Director of Bands and leader of the world-famous Disneyland Band in Anaheim, CA, and he ended his 47-year career with Disney as Director of Talent Booking & Casting. Although retired, Stan is still an active consultant and soundtrack conductor for Disney’s Performing Arts Program. Some of Stan’s recognitions include Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, University of Minnesota Distinguished Graduate Award, Disney Entertainment Excellence Award, and the Disney Entertainment Hall of Fame Award.

Dr. Russell Pesola was conductor of the Concordia College Band in Moorhead, Minnesota for 29 years. He earned MFA and DMA music degrees from the University of Minnesota. During the 1969 Tour to Russia, he played 1st cornet and served as the associate conductor of the band. Dr. Ben was a life-long friend and mentor to Russ. Pesola continues active performance on trumpet with the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony and the “Ameriikan Poijat” Finnish Brass Septet and is the director of the Park Rapids Area Community Band. He is an elected member of the American Bandmasters Association, and a member of the College Band Directors National Association, the Minnesota Music Educators Association, and is a founding member and past president of the Minnesota Band Directors Association.

Dr. Emily Threinen currently serves as Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. In this position, she conducts the acclaimed Wind Ensemble, guides the graduate wind band conducting program, assists undergraduate advanced conducting courses, and provides administrative leadership for all aspects of the University of Minnesota Bands. Prior to her appointment at Minnesota, Threinen served as Director of Bands, Associate Professor of Music, and Artistic Director of Winds and Brass at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Threinen consistently works with composers, arrangers, and performing artists of varied disciplines. Residencies and projects with composers and new compositions are integral to her creative work. She is an active guest conductor, clinician, conference presenter, and performer. An advocate for music education, Threinen is a Yamaha Master Educator and is active in American Bandmasters Association, World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, College Band Directors National Association, National Band Association, National Association for Music Education, and the Conductor’s Guild.

Prof. Jerry Luckhardt is Director of Graduate Studies/Associate Director of the School of Music at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities. He also serves as Associate Director of Bands, conducts the Symphonic Band, and teaches undergraduate conducting. Luckhardt has appeared as a guest conductor and clinician with ensembles throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. He has earned acclaim from composers such as Michael Colgrass, Shelley Hanson, Libby Larsen, Alex Shapiro, and Judith Lang Zaimont for performances of their works. He is also a strong advocate for music with membership in the College Band Directors National Association, Music Educators National Conference, Minnesota Band Directors Association, Phi Beta Lambda, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Kappa Kappa Psi, and Tau Beta Sigma. Professor Luckhardt is currently music director of the Medalist Concert Band in Bloomington, Minnesota and serves as conductor and artistic director of the Encore Wind Ensemble of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Prof. Elizabeth (Betsy) Kerns McCann is the Assistant Director of Bands/Director of Marching and Athletic Bands at the University of Minnesota. McCann is the first female head director of a marching band in the Big Ten Conference. McCann started with the U of M Marching Band in 2013 as Assistant Director. She previously directed bands at Watertown-Mayer High School (Watertown, MN), Waubonsie Valley High School (Aurora, IL) and Burnsville Senior High School (Burnsville, MN). She holds a Bachelor of Music (flute performance and music education) from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Music (conducting) from Northwestern University.

Dr. Lance Sample, a native of eastern Maryland, received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from West Virginia University, Master of Music Education degree from Florida State University, and Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting from The University of Texas at Austin. His principal conducting teachers include Jerry F. Junkin, Richard Clary, and Don Wilcox. Dr. Sample served as an Assistant Instructor with University Bands at The University of Texas at Austin. He was involved in creative and administrative aspects of the program including The University of Texas Wind Ensemble and The Longhorn Band. Prior to his graduate studies at The University of Texas and Florida State University, Dr. Sample taught in the public schools of Maryland for seven years. His professional affiliations include the College Band Directors National Association, the Texas Music Educators Association, and the Texas Band Masters Association.

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