I'm saddened to report that the Milwaukee Music Community has lost a champion. Wayne Becker passed away yesterday, October 17th. For those of you who are not familiar, Wayne directed many community music groups in the Milwaukee area for over 40 years including the Milwaukee Elks Youth Band, the Milwaukee Knights Band, and the Milwaukee Civic Concert Band.
He also co-founded (with Reverend Tom Raber) the Milwaukee British Brass Band, now known as the Milwaukee Festival Brass. Their first concert was in the summer of 1985, and he remained the Director until 2000, when he joined the cornet section as a player. (I attended their concert last June, and not only did he play the concert, he arranged one of the pieces. And, of course, the Milwaukee Festival Brass performed the World Premiere of Wayne's Laude - St. Francis of Assissi just last Sunday.)
He was a past president of the Wisconsin Bandmaster's Association, and past state chairman of the Pi chapter of Phi Beta Mu, the International Bandmaster's Fraternity. In 1998 he received the Lifetime Achievement in Music Award from the Civic Music Association of Milwaukee.
I have a lot of memories of Wayne, too many to post. But I do remember one theme that was always present when he worked with community music groups: he always worked to get the group to play the music the best it could. In community music groups, there is no higher goal!
Wayne, we already miss you!
Everyone: if you'd like to post a memory of working with Wayne, or a memorial, please do so. I think it would be a fitting tribute for many memorials to be posted on a blog devoted to community music groups in the Milwaukee area. Thank you.