At the June 20 Concert in the Park, the Rapid City Municipal band will feature Dr. Haley Armstrong, director of bands at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and Don Downs, retired Rapid City Stevens High School band director, in a trumpet duet performed over 81 years ago by Rose Bower and J.D. Bryson.
According to a news release from the municipal band, Bryson was a former conductor and Bower was a musician and women’s rights activist.
The Bower family was a prominent presence in the Rapid City music community in 1919, and their story, "The Family Band: From Missouri to the Black Hills," eventually became the basis for the Walt Disney musical and movie, "The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band."
Rose Bower was also a prominent soloist on her own, performing at local events on cornet and as a whistler. She was known outside of Rapid City as well, "as the woman with the golden cornet at state and national conventions of the Women’s Suffrage movement and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union."
When the Rapid City Military band formed in 1918, Bower sought to join. But the band’s board of directors voted to exclude women at their March 10, 1919, meeting.
Bower continued to push back on the exclusion, and was a member of the civic orchestra in Rapid City for many years. She was 71 years old when the band extended an invitation to women to join the band, but whether she joined isn't known.
The June 20 concert starts at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Park Bandshell.