The Band Goes Marching On

40 years of the band program and still going strong


Drew Keller

Marching band performs at stadium dedication

In the words of composer Isaac Stern, “Everywhere around the world, music enhances a hall…” This quote can connect back to our school, where the sound of instruments have flowed down our hallways for the past 40 years.

The band program at our school has grown and prospered since the beginning of our school’s history, creating three outstanding performance bands all thanks to the conductors who have shared their knowledge along the way.

One of these brilliant conductors was Jeffery Kimpton, who was the first director for the Apple Valley High School band in 1976. It was his leadership and love for what he did that set the bar for future directors to come.

Another important director was Scott Jones, who was the band director around 2000, and was also the conductor during Apple Valley High School’s 25th anniversary. It was at this time that he commissioned a piece to be created by David Gillingham, a now world-famous composer, who created for our school “With Heart and Voice.” This song, which also contains segments from our school’s alma mater, is now played around the globe and spreading our school’s name. 


“He (Gillingham) started the composition by trying to get ideas about what our high school’s all about. It’s a piece everyone needs to experience,” says current band director Corey Desens.

Corey Desens is one of two band directors that lead the three bands today. Growing up, he already had a strong passion for music.

“I knew in sixth grade that I already wanted to be a band director,” says Desens.

Desens later went to study at St. Olaf College for his undergraduate degree, and then to St. Thomas for his master’s in education in instrumental music. He also has a bachelor of music degree in music education. Though his main instrument was percussion and piano growing up, he’s now continuing to master other instruments, with the recent one being the accordion.

David Scalise is the newest member to the conductor family here at AVHS. Also a St. Olaf graduate with a Bachelors of Music in music education, he’s been conducting band students for the past two years. He’s definitely been a great joy to have in the band community.

“Playing music is an excellent way to make connections with other people,” says Mr. Scalise. “Some of my best friends are people I met in band! I see these types of connections being made by students in our band program everyday. This fosters a really strong sense of community.”

There are so many opportunities for band students to get involved with this program, creating a sense of community unlike any other. Programs such as the different ensembles (flute, percussion, etc.), jazz band, marching band, and even playing in Broadway allows for band students to connect and form lifelong bonds with one another.

“Playing in band has affected me in so many ways,” says Wind Ensemble trumpet player Trevor O’Keefe. “I have made many great friends in band and would love to be a professional trumpet player for a living.”

Athletic Band playing for the boys basketball state game
David Scalise
Athletic Band playing for the boys basketball state game

“It’s (the band program) well rounded with friends, opportunities, and the overall commitment level,” says Mrs. Moynihan, mother to three children participating in band. “Success brings success and I think it’s worked really well.”

For 40 years our school’s band program continues to amaze us with its talented bands, dedicated students and hardworking directors. The skill level is unparalleled, playing brilliant music while also having fun within their band community. It is with this success that we know that this band program will last for many more years to come.

The Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Wind Ensemble perform their last concert of the year on May…so come support our Apple Valley Band Program!