Sunday, August 30, 2009

An upcoming concert, and do you want to play your instrument?

First, here is an upcoming concert. Tosa Jazz, the big band portion of the Wauwatosa Community Band, will perform at Tosa Fest on Saturday September 12th, from 12:30 to 2:30 at the State Street Stage. Come see one of the best community jazz big bands in the area. And you also get to enjoy the wonders of Tosa Fest. Best part: it's all free!

Last year at this time I posted a list of different community music groups in the area, organized by the night of the week that they rehearse. Time to reprise that posting. If you have an instrument, and would like to play in a group, there are many to choose from in the Milwaukee Metro area. Here are some of the groups. And all of them would love to have a new member!

Sunday: There is one group rehearsing on Sunday evening, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Concert Band. The band is always looking for new members. If an audition is needed, it is in order to determine where a person would sit. The group performs a more traditional concert band repertoire, and performs most of the year. The group is lead by conductor Karen Lippert. Unfortunately the group does not have a web site at this time. If you're interested in more information, please send me an email and I'll forward it to the conductor.

Monday: There is a community orchestra rehearsing on Monday evenings, the Menomonee Falls Symphony, directed by Mike Kamenski. Auditions are required. The group performs traditional symphony orchestra works. To get more information, see the web site:

Tuesday: There are three groups rehearsing on Tuesday evening: the Wauwatosa Community Band, the Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, and the Milwaukee Festival Brass, the area's only British style brass band.

First, the Wauwatosa Community Band is sponsored in part by the Wauwatosa Parks and Rec department and welcomes any and all players. Their concerts are lighter in nature with some more serious works for band. See their web site for more information: http://www.arcfile/com/wcb/index.html

Also on Tuesday is the Waukesha Area Symphonic Band. WASB performs more serious works and more difficult works for band. Auditions are required. Their web site is

Finally on Tuesday is the Milwaukee Festival Brass directed by Dr. Pat Backhaus, one of my favorite groups. If you are a brass or percussion player, this group offers something different from most community groups as the instrumentation is that of a traditional British Brass Band. The music is a wide variety from Pops favorites to very difficult brass band competition pieces. Auditions are required. See the web site for more info:

Wednesday: There are three groups rehearsing on Wednesday evening: the Sudler Award Winning Knightwind Ensemble, the Lakeshore Symphonic Band, and the Milwaukee American Legion Band. The Legion band is modeled on the traditional patriotic military band. Not sure if they require auditions. Please see the web site for more information:

The Lakeshore Symphonic Band is located in Ozaukee County in Grafton. Their performances are at the Cedarburg Arts Center. You can get more information from their web site:

The Knightwind Ensemble also rehearses on Wednesday evening. The Ensemble specializes in performing newer works for band and wind symphony. Their web site has the list of the pieces performed in concert over the past 10 years plus, and it includes international award winning pieces. Auditions are required, and the band will add you to the waiting list if the section is full. See the web site for more information: The Ensemble received the Sudler Silver Scroll from the John Philip Sousa Foundation in December of 2005. Of the tens of thousands of community bands eligible for the award, the Knightwind Ensemble is one of 37 groups to EVER receive the award. Quite the accomplishment!

Thursday: Three groups rehearse on Thursday evening. The first is the Milwaukee Concert Band. As they do not ave a web site, it is difficult to get information about the group. However, if you are interested in a Thursday rehearsal, send me an email and I will make sure that the director receives it.

Also rehearsing on Thursday is the Suburban Concert Band in West Allis, and the Greendale Village Band. These groups do not have web sites either. However, the Wisconsin Music Group Band list at has contact information for them.

And that wraps up the list of community music groups in the Milwaukee area. If I missed one that you know of, please email me or add a comment to the post. I'll be sure to add it to the list.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The first Community Music Event of the Season

Welcome to the 2009-2010 Season, well almost. Technically, it begins in September.

But the first event is nearly here. On Friday September 11th at 7:30 PM, the Menomonee Falls Symphony will remember the sad events of that day in 2001 with a concert at the Basilica of St. Josephat, on the corner of 6th and Lincoln. The Orchestra will perform Karl Jenkins The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace, partnering with the St. Sebastian Adult Choir and members from the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Choir.

The Armed Man - A Mass For Peace is the result of a special millennial commission from the Royal Armouries and the latest in a six century old tradition of "Armed Man" masses that take the fifteenth century French song "L'Homme Armé" as their starting point. Large scale in both scope and scale "The Armed Man" it is a profoundly moving yet very accessible work which uses the most traditional of means to explore an all too contemporary subject. From the composer: "As I started composing "The Armed Man" the tragedy of Kosovo unfolded. I was reminded daily of the horror of such conflict and so I dedicate the work to the victims of Kosovo" .

In a manner reminiscent of Britten's War Requiem, "The Armed Man" interpolates a number of different texts within the usual Mass form. Malory, Dryden, Swift, Tennyson, Kipling, The Koran and the Hindu Mahàbharàta contribute to a compelling account of the descent into and terrible consequences of war.

The performance by the Monomonee Falls Symphony in remembrance of September 11, 2001 has become an annual event. If you have not heard this piece, I strongly recommend that you attend. There is nothing I can think of to which I could compare it. You really need to hear this piece for yourself.

I'll post an update with ticket information once I have it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The summer season is winding down

Most of the community bands have completed their seasons. You can still hear the Racine Concert Band performing today the 16th at 7 PM at Zoo Park, as well as next week Sunday the 23rd, also at 7 PM.

Next week I'll have details on the first community music performance of the fall season, a concert in remembrance of September 11th, 2001. Later I'll have the Calendar of Fall Season Concerts, and a preview of the Season for the Milwaukee Festival Brass.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

More fun at the State Fair

There is a great event coming up on Sunday August 16th at 3 PM. It's the Grandstand Show at the State Fair featuring the Wisconsin School Music Association Music Showcase.

The program will feature a number of different types of groups. Marching bands, jazz bands, and Launchpad groups all will be featured. (Launchpad groups are bands formed outside of school, usually rock or rap groups.) The different performing groups will be judged and the feedback from the event will help each of the music groups, and music programs, improve. Plus the groups chosen for the showcase get to play for a large audience, which is always a thrill. Everybody wins!

Some of the school performing groups include the Pius High School Jazz Combo, and the marching bands from Roncalli HS, Romeoville, HS and Mukwonago HS. Should be a lot of fun. Presentation of the plaques for participation should be completed by about 6 PM. A great afternoon.

So get to the State Fair for your cream puff, your favorite treat on a stick, and support our music students. A great day and a lot of fun.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Community Music at the State Fair

One of the things I like about the State Fair (besides the strange things on a stick you can eat) is the daily parade through the grounds. All the groups volunteer their performances, so the size of the parade varies from day to day. I've seen Senior Dance teams, antique cars, and many school bands.

I always enjoy the performances of the school bands. The kids try really hard. And they are usually pretty good. And the few goofs I sometimes hear can usually be attributed to nervous tension from playing before a much larger crowd than they've ever seen.

I stop and enjoy at least one tune before moving to my destination. After all, these kids are the future of our community bands and orchestras!

So get to the fair and enjoy the parade. Less fat and calories than anything you can get on a stick!