Head down to Lennox’s Westerman Park on a Thursday in the summer, and you may be surprised to hear the Grand Canyon Overture or the Beer Barrel Polka. These were just a few selections that wafted through the summer air on June 28th as the Lennox Municipal Band preformed at the Jacobs Memorial Bandshell that evening.
Having played concerts every summer since its founding in 1883, the Lennox Municipal Band can rightfully lay claim to the distinction of being the oldest continuous musical organization in South Dakota, and among the older such groups in the nation.
There was a time that practically every community had a town band. Before the days of instrumental music education in public schools, interested citizens gave of their time and talent to promote music among the people of their respective communities. The founding of the Lennox Municipal Band dates back to the spring of 1883, the outgrowth of the original concert band.
Throughout the years, the Lennox Municipal Band has been under the direction of many talented conductors, many who would guide the musicians for years, although none have come close to the 40 years that Arthur B Jacobs led the band in the early 1900’s.
The current band director is nearly halfway there. Byron Youngquist, of Lennox, has been directing the Lennox Municipal Band for 19 years. He made the transition from performing to directing, only a few years after moving to the Lennox area.
“I played a couple of years before directing when Bob Reed was the conductor. I mostly played alto saxophone but subbed on trumpet a few times,” Youngquist said.
Music is a big part of his life. Youngquist has a degree in music education from the University of Nebraska and has taught music for 18 years. After teaching nearly two decades, he attended Western Iowa Tech to study music instrument repair and has been repairing instruments for 22 years.
“I think music is important to any community whether it is a municipal band, school music group or church music,” Youngquist said. “In all of today’s ugliness any thing of beauty should be lifted up. A chance to work together for a common good and strive for excellence should always be encouraged.”
His style of leadership has maintained a good number of participants in the Municipal Band. Attendance in the band varies from week to week, but typically runs 30 to 35 members, with ages from Jr. High to senior adults.
He said working with the age differences is really not that major.
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