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Air Force musicians will play Monday

Farmington Community Education director Heidi Cunningham is really excited for Monday night. And she hopes folks around the community are, too.

On Monday, the United States Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants are coming to Farmington for a free show, and Cunningham could not be more pleased.

A few years back, while she was the community education director in Albert Lea, Cunningham learned that every branch of U.S. military had orchestras, symphonies and choirs. Those groups like to tour the country and perform. It took her a while to make the right connections, but before too long, she found the people she needed to find.

Over time, Cunningham brought several performances to her former district. When she came to Farmington in 2007, "I thought I would give it a try," she said.

Community Education is partnering with the Farmington Independent to sponsor the concert, thus enabling the audience to see a free show.

"This way, we are able to offer a free concert to everyone in the city and the school district," Cunningham said. "I just think that is so important."

Next week's concert will be the first time Cunningham has heard the Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants, but she expects the group will be just as amazing as others she has worked with. All members of the Concert Band and the Singing Sergeants are enlisted men and women who strive for precision.

It is typical, she said, that people expect the music to be military or patriotic in nature. Some of it is. But not all of it. The groups are versatile performers, performing jazz, folk songs and even some contemporary favorites.

"Every time we had one of these military groups perform, people were like, 'I heard so much about the concert, I heard it was really good,'" she said. "I really hope people will take advantage of this opportunity because they will be delightfully entertained."

Getting the United States Air Force performers to come to Farmington was no small feat. It took Cunningham well over a year to get worked into the Concert Band and Singing Sergeants' schedule. Military musicians, she said, tend to schedule several stops within a certain geographic area -- it was just a matter of when they were going to be nearby. The Concert Band has played in 50 countries around the world.

"I feel like we're really privileged to have the opportunity to see them in action here in Farmington," Cunningham said.

One of the stipulations most bands ask is that the concerts be free to the public. Tickets have been available for several weeks through community education and the Farmington Independent, but seats are still available.

"I'm hoping we can fill the house to show our appreciation for them coming to Farmington," she said. "If we get a good reaction, which I can't imagine we won't, we would certainly like to do this every two years."