Concert tune up

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The Bartlett Community Concert Band will perform Friday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the Bartlett Performing Arts and Conference Center.

Practicing Monday at Whitten Baptist Church, conductor Dr. Rhendle Millen said the late, longtime band director and artist Lafayette Ragsdale wrote all of the pieces except one on Friday’s set list. Ragsdale was the band director for years at Central High and other public schools in Shelby County.

He chose Ragsdale’s works because he played in his first high school band under Ragsdale.

“He got me so excited about music, it’s what I’ve done for my whole life,” said Millen, who got his doctorate in music composition and went on to become the chair of performing arts and band director at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis for 36 years. “He’s one of the greatest men I’ve ever known.”

The Bartlett Community Concert Band (BCCB) is comprised of dozens of musicians from around the Mid-South, not just from Bartlett, ranging in age from 18 to their 70s. They are not required to audition but are asked to attend as many weekly practices at the church as they can.

“It’s a bunch of people who played in high school and college and have other professions, but still want to play,” said Chris Thorne, president of BCCB. “This is their opportunity.”   

The musicians may see a show or hear about the band and then inquire about joining. BCCB performs some free concerts or can be hired, but it charges just enough to cover its costs and some wear and tear. 

“The last few years we’ve had more and more local band directors come and play with us,” Millen said. He said the directors will play a different musical instrument with the band than they normally do to help make them better teachers of those instruments for their students. 

“We love having them because they are great musicians,” he said.

Before COVID-19, the band was performing about 20 times a year, and it is now trying to get back to about half that number of showings. 

“We did about seven shows last year,” said Millen. 

Tickets for Friday’s concert are $10. Call the BPACC Box Office at 901-385-5588 for tickets, go online at BPACC.org or visit in person at 3663 Appling Road from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

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