Sunday, January 25, 2009


Congratulations are in order. They go out to the East Winds Symphonic Band, in the greater Pittsburgh, PA area. The Sousa Foundation awarded them the Sudler Silver Scroll, the highest award a North American community band can achieve. While any number of community bands can receive the award in a given year, only the East Winds Symphonic Band received the award in December of 2008.

I believe this brings the total number of community bands receiving the award to 35. Southeast Wisconsin has always been active in community music, and the fact that there are two Sudler Award winning community bands in the area is certainly an indication. If you're keeping score, the Racine Concert Band received the award in the 90's and Milwaukee's Knightwind Ensemble received the award in 2005.

The award is special because each band that applies for it must show contributions to the culture of the community in which it serves, as well as musical ability. The musical portion is judged blindly by 15 people from around the country (the applying band must create 15 CDs containing about 30 minutes of music from their concerts of the last year). The application itself fills a three ring binder, showing the contributions to the community over many years. I've chatted with a couple of Sudler award judges who tell me that it is not uncommon to receive 50 applications for the award each year. Usually one or two of the applicants will receive the award. There were some years when no one received the award.

So, again, congratulations to the East Winds Symphonic Band of Pittsburgh, the newest community band to be recognized by the Sousa Foundation as one of the best in North America!

And a reminder: if you'd like tickets to the Valentine Dinner and Concert presented by the Menomonee Falls Symphony, call Delores Chrzan at 262-679-0779. Reservations must be made by February 6th.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Concert Preview

While it's early in the new season, I do have some information on one of the March concerts. The Knightwind Ensemble will perform on Sunday March 22 in the Schwan Concert Hall on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College. The theme of the concert is Deja vu, chosen because a piece was played once before or a composer was featured once before.

One of the pieces that the Ensemble has played before is the Satiricon Suite by Bogdan Trotsuk (an Azerbajani who studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Khachaturian). The suite is extremely fun to hear, full of satire and farce (and dissonance, but a good dissonance). The movements are Hooray for the Clowns, Cruel Tango, and Capricious Waltz. And I'll leave the rest to your imagination. A really fun piece to hear, but difficult to describe!

The Knightwind Ensemble will also welcome an old friend. Tubist Dan Neesley will perform J. Edward Barat's Introduction and Dance on the tuba. This performance will mark the sixth decade in which Dan has soloed with the ensemble or one of its predecessors.

And that's all for now. I'll have more information on the Knightwind concert, and other concerts coming up, in future posts. Stay tuned!

And don't forget to order your tickets for the Valentine Dinner and Concert performed by the Menomonee Falls Symphony. See the blog posting from January 4th for all the info.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

As promised - the calendar

I promised at the end of December that I would list the concerts coming up for the Spring Season. My original thought was to post the calendar at the beginning of January, but I wanted to get the word out about the Valentines dinner-concerts last week. So, the calendar arrives on the second post of 2009. No concerts in January (no surprise there) or April (bit of a surprise), and only the Valentines dinner-concerts in February. But March, May and June are full of opportunities to hear community music groups. And here they are:


13 and 14 - Menomonee Falls Symphony present their annual Valentines Day Dinner and Concert at the Silver Spring Country Club. Dinner begins at 6:30.


6 - Suburban Concert Band performs a winter concert at 7:30 at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis

8 - Milwaukee Festival Brass performs Americans We at their annual Festival concert at 3 PM at the Schwan Concert Hall. This year's concert salutes our Armed Services.

8 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band performs their spring concert at 3 PM in the Cedarburg Performing Arts Center

22 - Knightwind Ensemble performs their spring concert at Schwan Concert Hall at 3 PM



1 - Waukesha Area Symphonic Band performs their annual Spring Benefit Concert featuring the winner of the Concerto Competition at 7:30 in Shattuck Auditorium

15 - Suburban Band of West Allis performs their spring concert at Nathan Hale High School at 7:30

16 - Menomonee Falls Symphony performs Springtime featuring the winner of their Young Artist Competition at 7:30 in the Menomonee Falls Jr. High School

17 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band performs their Concerto Concert featuring the winner of their concerto competition at 3 PM at the Cedarburg Performing Arts Center

17 - Milwaukee American Legion Band performs their spring concert at 3 PM at Milwaukee Lutheran High School

25 - The Knightwind Ensemble perform their 20th Annual Memorial Day Pops Concert at the Milwaukee County Zoo at 1 PM


7 - Milwaukee Festival Brass present Intergalactic Brass at 3 PM at the Schwan Concert Hall

I'm still working to get the date of the May concert of the Fox Valley Horn Choir. As soon as I have it, I'll post it and add it to this calendar.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year!

To everyone, a wonderful 2009. May it be better than you hope!

And to begin 2009, there is an interesting fund raiser coming up for one of the community music groups in the area. The Valentines Dinner and Pops Concert at the Silver Spring Country Club is a fund raising event for the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra. Every year the orchestra performs a dinner concert with music appropriate for Valentines Day. This year the orchestra performs two dinner concerts: Friday February 13 and Saturday February 14. The theme for this year's concert is Viennese Romance. Dinner begins at 6:30, with the concert beginning at about the time dessert is served.

Tickets are $40 each. For more information, see the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra web page: You can also get more information my calling 414-481-3880 or 262-679-0779.

So, if you are out of Valentines Day ideas, and the stuffed monkey with the heart shaped box of candy will not work this year, maybe dinner and a concert will be the perfect gift!

I've also heard from Dr. Pat Backhaus of the Milwaukee Festival Brass. She will be c0-hosting a brass festival with the Soli Deo Gloria Institute for the Arts ( next weekend January 10 and 11. Trombonist Larry Zimmerman from the Chestnut Brass will be the guest performer and will also hold a master class. All events are at the Star of Bethlehem Lutheran Church on Casper Drive in New Berlin.

On Saturday, Mr. Zimmerman will hold his master class at 1 PM, and perform in recital at 7 PM. On Sunday afternoon is the Festival Concert at 3 PM featuring participating brass groups and Mr. Zimmermann as guest conductor.

If you'd like more information, please contact Dr. Pat at 262-993-1834.