The beat goes on

Published: Mar. 17, 2019 at 6:40 PM CDT
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To say the Peske family is musical would be an understatement. This family lives and breathes music.

Bob Peske is the band director at Bismarck High School. His father in law, Gordon Knaak, held that position for nearly 40 years before Bob. Bob’s son, Rob, teaches orchestra to fourth and fifth grade students at six Bismarck elementary schools. And Rob’s 11-year-old son, Ben, plays the piano, the bass, and now the drums.

Monday, the three generations of Peskes will join the Bismarck High School Wind Ensemble for a very special performance, one that dates all the way back to the Civil War.

"This drum is very old. That’s what I know. It’s like my great, great, great grandfather’s," said Ben.

The drum Ben is talking about, and playing, dates back to the Civil War.

"This drum was my great grandfather’s drum, who at age 16 volunteered for the Civil War and became a Civil War drummer. We have complete records of every post he was at, every battle he fought in, the whole history of his military career. After the war, he and his wife moved from Wisconsin to Marion, ND where they homesteaded. Of course, he brought his drum with him, and his musket," said Bob.

And now, Bob has brought the drum to his band room at Bismarck High School. His grandson is playing it oh so carefully with the BHS Wind Ensemble.

"It’s very old and very fragile," said Ben.

Ben’s dad, Rob, and his uncle, Tim, are here too. They’ll perform "The Blue and the Gray" at Bismarck High’s winter concert, in the auditorium named after their maternal grandfather, Gordon Knaak.

"It’s quite a treat to be a part of this performance. The Peske family and the Knaack family have quite a long history with Bismarck High and with music, so it’s an honor to be a part of that tradition. It’s also just always a treat to work with these students who are experiencing music, and history, and tradition, family and all of those things coming together in one thing. It’s a really cool experience that is what music is all about," said Rob.

"It’s just pretty cool that grandpa’s drum is being played by grandsons being directed by grandpa in grandpa’s auditorium. There’s a lot of grandpas in that mix and it’s kind of cool," said Bob.

As for Ben, he says performances like this are what he loves most about music.

"It’s fun because I get to make people smile when I’m playing music," said Ben.

A statement that makes generations of Peskes smile.

You can hear Rob and Ben play the Peske family’s drum at the Bismarck High School winter concert Sunday night. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Knaak.

The Cadet, Ranger, and Concert bands as well as the Wind Ensemble will perform.

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