The 90-member St. Olaf Band celebrated its centennial year with a tour of Great Britain, becoming the first college music organization to perform at the famed Aldeburgh Festival. The St. Olaf Band was also the first American collegiate band to make a European concert tour, traveling to Norway under the baton of F. Melius Christiansen to perform for King Haakon and capacity crowds in 1906. The band has subsequently toured several times in Norway, Great Britain and central Europe, as well as throughout the United States. Memorable performances include invitations to the national conventions of the American Bandmasters Association (1997), College Band Directors National Association (1987) and Music Educators National Conference (2004). The band toured Britain and Ireland in the summer of 2000, participated in a study tour of Mexico in January 2004, and recently participated in a study tour of Japan in January 2010.
Miles Johnson, known since childhood as "Mity," conducted the St. Olaf Band for 37 years,over a third of its history. Named one of "Ten Outstanding Music Educators" in the United States in 1973, he also was recognized by the Minnesota Music Educators Association in 1987 as "Music Educator of the Year." Johnson served as president of the North Central Division of the College Band Directors National Association in 1989 and 1990. He founded both the Minnesota Instrumental Conducting Symposium and the Minnesota Symphonic Winds.
After graduating cum laude in 1951 from Concordia College with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Music degree, he went on to earn a Master of Music degree at Western Reserve University in Ohio. Following a tour of military duty in Korea, Johnson moved with his wife, Myrna, to Hawley, a small town in western Minnesota. They were teaching high school there when, during the summer of 1957, he received a call from Olaf Christiansen, chair of the St. Olaf music department, informing him of an opening for a band director. The rest is history.