Being part of caring and thoughtful communities is what making music is all about, according to Director of Bands Tony Boldt. “Throughout my career at Kasson-Mantorville High School, one aspect of music making that I have enjoyed the most is having different groups and individuals interact with one another. Music is so much about connection,” he says.
A decade ago, the communities of Kasson and Mantorville in Minnesota passed a referendum that included a new high school commons, a renovated gym, a new 800-seat auditorium and the renovation of the music department. Construction was completed two years later in 2016. “The community has always greatly supported the arts, and the Performing Arts Center serves as a constant reminder of that outstanding support. The space is used almost every day, and we have an amazing technical director who helps bring our concerts and productions to another level,” Boldt says.
He promotes a student aid program, which has fostered leadership skills. “Over the past few years, these students have really become the organization leaders who keep the ship running,” he says. “We have some wonderful senior leaders who are heavily involved in our fall musical and fall band and choir activities. While we pack a lot into the fall, it allows us to create a great leadership team of seniors.”
Performing works by up-and-coming composers has been a focal point for Boldt. His band has performed two works by composer Claire Howard, who Boldt met at the University of Minnesota Conducting Symposium. “We are hoping to expand this into a bigger commissioning project that will take place yearly,” he says.
Boldt’s seemingly endless energy and passion come from having wonderful mentors who modeled how to create groups and spaces where everyone feels welcomed and safe. “I use the same methods for recruiting as I saw my amazing middle school music teachers — Brian Cole and Denise Pesola — used,” Boldt says. “I strive to create community in the same way my college band directors — Dr. Nat Dickey and Dr. Scott Jones — did. My two colleagues at Kasson-Mantorville — Liz Harwood and Sarah Vinzant — are fantastic recruiters and proponents of music who constantly create outstanding connections with students while eliminating barriers to entry. I’ve learned so much from all these incredible music educators.”
Boldt also directs the Rochester Community Band, a group of about 75 musicians that range in age from 14 or 15 to 80! “So much of the recruitment for the Rochester Community Band is word of mouth through members, but I always make sure to invite local students, and we get many during the summer,” Boldt says.