Sunday, December 19, 2010

A very Merry Christmas To You!

It's the 19th of December. The concerts have been played. People are just finishing their list of things to do before the Holidays arrive (or maybe not).

I wish you a wonderful Holiday Season, regardless of the Holiday you keep. I'll be back in early January with a calendar of concerts for the beginning of 2011.

Until then, all the best to you and yours!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Horns A Plenty Christmas in the Fox Valley

As I mentioned in the last post, the Horns A Plenty Christmas concert for Milwaukee happened on the 10th. However, you can still participate in the one to be held in the Fox Valley on Saturday December 18. All of the events will be held at the Communication Arts Center on the Campus of the University of Wisconsin - Fox Valley in Menasha, Wisconsin.

The special guest this year is Randall Faust, Professor of Music at Western Illinois University, and host of last year's International Horn Society Symposium. The day begins with a Master Class taught by Dr. Faust at 11 AM. At 1 PM, all horn players will assemble for the rehearsal. Finally, the concert begins at 2 PM.

If you are in the Fox Valley, be sure to set some time aside for this wonderful event. For those of you in the rest of Southeastern Wisconsin, you might want to take a road trip to witness this wonderful concert. Horn players of all ages and skills playing the music of the season. A lot of fun and a great experience for horn players, young and old alike.

For more information, here is the Horns A Plenty Christmas web site link:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Horns A Plenty Christmas in Milwaukee

Attention all Milwaukee Area horn players: Horns A Plenty Christmas will perform at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts on Friday December 10 before the Milwaukee Ballet performance of the Nutcracker. For those of you who may not know, the Horns A Plenty Christmas concerts started in the Fox Valley about 10 years ago, and they raise money for scholarships for high school French Horn players. Anyone can play (the music is fairly easy), just show up, pay the fee, don the T-Shirt, and play!

For more information, see the web site:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday Concert Preview - Waukesha Area Symphonic Band

Join the Waukesha Area Symphonic Band for their annual Holiday concert, this year on Friday, December 10, at 7:30 PM in Shattuck Auditorium on the campus of Carroll University.

Who can resist the majestic sound of brass playing holiday music? Or maybe some jazzy woodwinds? What would your holiday season be without hearing Sleigh Ride, or Silent Night? All of this will be include in the concert. And the special arrangement of Silent Night, by Music Director Rick Kirby, has become a tradition on this concert. The performance will feature holiday music performed by smaller ensembles from within the band, as well as the full band.

Admission to this concert is $5, or is free with a donation of 5 non-perishable foods items that will be donated to the Waukesha Food Pantry. Examples of especially needed items include peanut butter, canned chili, stews and meats, canned vegetables, pastas, rice and soups.

Be sure to mark your calendar for the evening of December 10, and maybe pack up some food as well. You'll get a great deal, enjoy a fun concert, and do a great deal of good!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Calendar of Holiday Concerts and something for those in the Fox Valley

First, if you live in the Fox Valley, be sure to attend a special free concert of the Oshkosh Horn Choir, next Sunday December 5 at 7PM in the concert hall. This group is made up of volunteer horn players from all over eastern Wisconsin, from the Fox Valley to Green Bay to Milwaukee. The sound of a choir of french horns is unique. If you have never heard that sound, I encourage you to attend. Dr. Bruce Atwell has prepared the group with a wide variety of music, from classical to fun. I know you'll enjoy it.

And as promised, here is the Calendar of Holiday Concerts in December. Clicking on the band's name will take you to their web site for more information. Or print the page and tape it to your refrigerator door!

5 - Hartland Community Band, 3 PM, Holy Hill Basilica
10 - Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, 7:30 PM, Shattuck Auditorium, Carroll University
11 - Menomonee Falls Symphony, 7:30 PM, Sussex Hamilton Fine Arts Center
12 - Milwaukee American Legion Band, 3 PM, South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
19 - Milwaukee Festival Brass, 3 PM, Wisconsin Lutheran College
19 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, 3 PM, Holy Hill Basilica

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Knightwind Concert and the Holiday

When I started on this post and entered the title, I thought it sounded like the title of a fable. Instead, it is a reminder and a wish.

First the reminder: be sure to attend the Knightwind Ensemble concert at 3 PM today, November 21, at Wisconsin Lutheran College. I'll be selling the tickets in the lobby, so stop by and say hello.

Second is the wish: I wish you all a wonderful, peaceful, and happy Thanksgiving Holiday. We have so much to be thankful for here in the Milwaukee area. Sometimes life moves so quickly that we forget the wonderful things we do have. Let's reflect a bit this holiday about all the blessings we have and not concentrate on the things we'd like to have.

Next week's post is the calendar of Holiday concerts, ready for your refrigerator door!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The fall season is winding down

Not as much to write about this week.

Don't forget the concert by the Waukesha Area Symphonic Band at Carroll University at 7:30 PM, today, November 14.

And be sure to attend next week's concert by the Knightwind Ensemble, at 3 PM at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Be sure to visit the Knightwind web site ( and print the page with the concert preview. Bring it to the concert for $1 off the adult ticket price for everyone in your party. (Sorry, but the Senior and Student ticket price is as low as we can go already. We just cannot discount those tickets any further.)

And when you buy your tickets to the Knightwind Ensemble concert, be sure to say hello to Yours Truly, who will be taking care of all the details in the lobby during the performance, including selling the tickets.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Concert Preview - Waukesha Area Symphonic Band presents a World Premiere

Join the Waukesha Area Symphonic Band on Sunday (new day) November 14 at 7:30 PM for a World Premiere. The Shattuck Auditorium on the campus of Carroll University will be the site for Remix, a new piece by Music Director Rick Kirby. Mr. Kirby is a retired band director from Waukesha West High School, and, besides his composing duties, he is currently directing the Carroll University Jazz Ensemble and is also Associate Director of the Youth Wind Orchestra of Wisconsin.

The concert will also include a fanfare by Julie Giroux, the famous Suite of Old American Dances by Robert Russell Bennett, and an anthology of Leroy Anderson tunes. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door. For more information or to pre-order tickets, please call 262-370-6129.

One neat piece of trivia I learned about this concert is that, performing in the band for this concert, is a husband, wife, and son. The Eisenmann family will be well represented in the ranks of the musicians on that evening. That's one of the great things about community music groups: the love of music can be passed down through the generations, and we all benefit from that love.

And the Packers have a Bye week. No game to get in the way of concert attendance! Hope to see you there!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Concert announcement and a possible Christmas Gift

First, today, is the concert announcement. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Concert Band will perform a concert saluting our Veterans on Saturday November 6 at 5 PM in Memorial Hall at the War Memorial Center in downtown Milwaukee, where Wisconsin Avenue meets Prospect Avenue, 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive). The MMCCB performs patriotic concerts recognizing Veterans Day every year, and it is always good concert: a nice mix of remembering the fallen and saluting those still with us. If you go, I know you will enjoy the concert. The band will also perform the concert on Veterans Day at the Zablocki Hospital.

And here is some news from the Racine Concert Band that might help you with your Christmas shopping. The Business Manager of the Racine Band, and former Music Director Del Esich, has written a book on the history of the Racine Band. The book is called And The Band Played On. He traces the beginnings of the band back to the 1850's and discusses the contributions of Henry and Fred Schulte in the 20's through the 40's. Of course, he outlines the years he was at the helm, including the band's performance with Barbra McNair in 1987 at the Grand Dedication of Racine's Festival Hall, and the awarding of the Sudler Silver Scroll to the Racine Concert Band by the John Phillip Sousa Foundation in 1995. The band is one of the best in the nation with the history to show for it.

It is a fascinating read. If you are interested in community bands, this book is a must for your library. It is available at Wilson's Coffee Shop in Racine: 3306 Washington Avenue, 262-634-6611. Give them a call or stop by for a coffee or tea when you pick up your copy. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, some of the photographs used in the book were taken by yours truly. But that is not the reason to buy the book. OK, maybe it is a small reason...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Concert Preview - Menomonee Falls Symphony

The Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Mike Kamenski, presents The Elements of Music on Saturday October 30th at 7:30 PM in the Sussex Hamilton Fine Arts Center.

This concert for young people will feature a number of works as examples of the essence of music, and the process of creating it. Included on the program will be some selections from Moussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition, Richard Wagner's opera Die Miestersinger, and the Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Some great music and a lot of fun. And maybe some learning as well.

As a special treat, students who are interested can come up on the stage and sit in with the Orchestra during the performance. For that young aspiring musician, that can be a great thrill.

For more information on the concert, including ticket purchases, please check the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra's web site:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Concert Preview - Milwaukee Festival Brass

Join the Milwaukee Festival Brass on Sunday October 24th at 3PM for Traditions, to be held in the Schwan Concert Hall on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College. Maestra Dr. Patricia Backhaus has programed musical traditions in a number of different ways.

First, here's some background information in case you are not familiar with the group. The Milwaukee Festival Brass is a British Style Brass Band (see their web site at for more information on that). Besides using all brass instruments (and slightly different ones at that), British Brass Bands perform in competitions, and in the autumn the winners of the regional competitions converge on London for the British Brass Band National Championships, held at the Royal Albert Hall.

Dr. Backhaus has chosen two pieces for the program that were used to test the participating bands. The first one is from 1952, and is entitled Fantasia: In Switzerland, composed by Eric Ball. The second piece, which tested bands in 2009 in competitions throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand, is called Torchbearer and it uses a theme from the music of Eric Ball, but is devilishly hard to play. It was written by one of the Brass' favorite composers, Peter Graham.

The program also features the Brass' lead Euphonium, Dave Meyer, as well as music from Fiddler On The Roof. It should be a lot of fun...the MFB concerts always are.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $9 for Seniors and Students, and can be purchased at the door. For more information, visit

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Concert Preview - Wauwatosa Community Band

Join the Wauwatosa Community Band for an early Holloween Celebration on Tuesday October 26 at 7 PM at Longfellow Middle School, at the corner of 76th Street and North Avenue. And be sure to come in costume!

Music Director Donna Kummer has chosen a mix of musical styles. From Broadway and the Movies comes music from The Sound of Music and from The Lion King. The trombone section is featured in a fun selection called Slippery Slides. Every children's concert needs a classical warhorse, and in this concert you'll hear Rossini's William Tell Overture.

I have to mention that Tosa Band will perform one of my favorite pieces: Norman Dello Joio's Scenes From The Louvre. The piece is a five movement work depicting the development of the Louvre during the Renaissance. It was originally written for the 1964 NBC television series on the Louvre, and it won the Emmy for outstanding television score that year. The band version was premiered in March of 1966 by the Baldwin-Wallace College Wind Ensemble conducted by the composer. It is a wonderful piece of music depicting not only the wonderful works of art within that museum, but the stateliness of the museum itself. I'm sure you will enjoy it, just as I am sure that the band will be challenged by it!

Finally, there has to be some scary music. Maestra Kummer has chosen two pieces to fill the bill: Thrillers and Chillers and Ghosts in the Graveyard. Just in time to get you in the mood for the upcoming weekend!

Snacks and drinks will be served after the concert for little goblins looking for a treat! Bigger goblins can enjoy them as well.

Tickets can be purchased in the lobby before the concert. Don't miss this one, it is guaranteed to be a lot of fun!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Concert Preview - Knightwind Ensemble

The new Music Director for the Knightwind Ensemble, Dr. Erik Janners of Marquette University, has passed on some of the music the Ensemble will perform at their November 21 concert. For the record, the concert will be in the Schwan Concert Hall on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College. The entrance to the Concert Hall is about 88th and Wisconsin Avenue. The concert will begin at 3 PM.

Two favorite orchestral transcriptions will be included in the program: the movements Mars, The Bringer of War and Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity from Gustav Holst masterpiece, The Planets. It has been many years since Knightwind performed either of these two movements, and yet they remain a favorite of both the audience and the musicians.

It would not be a Knightwind Ensemble performance without some music from a contemporary composer. For the November concert, that composer is Martin Ellerby, and the music is his Dreamscapes. The music is impressions of areas outside reality, including Shangri-La and Xanado. The Ensemble has performed Mr. Ellerby's Paris Sketches in November of 2005.

Also on the program is Aspen Jubilee from composer Ron Nelson. His aim with the music was to show "...the stupendous beauty of the Rockies, in general, of blinding sunlight, of snow-covered peaks; of the frontier spirit of old Aspen with its brash, funny dynamism, its corny ragtag Fourth of July parades and firework displays."

You can reach the Knightwind Web Site at By printing out the page for the next concert, you can receive a discount on concert tickets. Be sure to check it out. And be sure to mark your calendar for November 21. The concert will be a good one!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

News from the Fox Valley

Over the past few years, the founder of the Fox Valley Horn Choir, Don Krause, has organized a special event to raise scholarship money for students playing the French Horn. He calls it Horns A Plenty Christmas. For a number of years, the event occurred in Appleton. Last year, there was one in Milwaukee as well. He and his partner, Dr. Bruce Atwell who teaches Horn at UW Oshkosh, have been promoting the event nationwide.

I learned recently that Don can add another city to the list hosting Horns A Plenty Christmas: Washington DC. The date is Saturday December 4 and the location is the National Gallery of Art. Rehearsal begins at 12:30 PM with the concert to be held at 2 PM. All horn players are welcome to participate. The music is easy and the cost is low. Don's goal is a minimum of 100 horn players. And there is a rumor that the horn sections from some of the Service Bands will be attending. WOW!

The details will be posted on the Horns A Plenty Christmas web site once they are all worked out. But I bet there are a number of Milwaukee area horn players that are thinking ROAD TRIP!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

News from the Western Suburbs

I learned this week that the schedule for the Waukesha Area Symphonic Band has been set. The fall concert is Sunday evening November 14 at 7:30 PM at Shattuck Auditorium on the campus of Carroll University. WASB will celebrate the Holidays on Friday December 10 at 7:30, also in the Shattuck Auditorium. The Spring concert is set for Sunday April 17, also at 7:30 PM in Shattuck.

Their annual Concerto Competition auditions will be held on Saturday February 5. More details will come after the first of the year.

And for those of you in Wauwatosa, the first concert of the Wauwatosa Community Band will celebrate Halloween! Music will include Thrillers and Chillers and Ghosts in the Graveyards. More traditional selections will include The William Tell Overture and music from The Lion King. Unfortunately, the date has not been finalized. Once it is, I'll get it posted.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Not much news this week

The season is just underway. I'm working on getting more dates for the calendar, but nothing to add just yet.

However, I did get some news on the November concert by the Knightwind Ensemble. The new Music Director, Dr. Erik Janners, will be programming two movements from The Planets by Gustav Holst: Mars and Jupiter. Just based on that, it will be a great concert!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

2010 - 2011 Community Music Calendar

With the new concert season beginning, I've assembled a list of the concerts by the different community groups that I get information from. At this time, there are three groups that have not set their concert dates: the Milwaukee Concert Band, the Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, and the Wauwatosa Community Band. When I get those dates, I'll post the information and add it to this calendar. If you have concert information for community groups not on the calendar, send me an email at and I'll post the information. Thanks in advance.

September - No concerts

17 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, 3pm, Cedarburg Performing Arts Center
24 - Milwaukee Festival Brass, 3 PM, Wisconsin Lutheran College
24 - Milwaukee American Legion Band, 3 PM, South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
30 - Menomonee Falls Symphony, 7:30 PM, Sussex Hamilton Fine Arts Center

11 - Milwaukee American Legion Band, 10 AM, Chapel at Zablocki Hospital
14 - Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, 7:30 PM, Shattuck Auditorium, Carroll University
21 - Knightwind Ensemble, 3 PM, Wisconsin Lutheran College

5 - Hartland Community Band, 3 PM, Holy Hill Basilica
10 - Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, 7:30 PM, Shattuck Auditorium, Carroll University
11 - Menomonee Falls Symphony, 7:30 PM, Sussex Hamilton Fine Arts Center
12 - Milwaukee American Legion Band, 3 PM, South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
19 - Milwaukee Festival Brass, 3 PM, Wisconsin Lutheran College
19 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, 3 PM, Holy Hill Basilica

January - No concerts

11, 12 - Menomonee Falls Symphony, 6:30 Dinner and 7:30 concert, Silver Spring Country Club

6 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, 3 PM, Cedarburg Performing Arts Center

3 - Knightwind Ensemble, 3 PM, South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
3 - Milwaukee Festival Brass, 3 PM, Wisconsin Lutheran College
17 - Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, 7:30 PM, Shattuck Auditorium, Carroll University

15 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, 3 PM, Cedarburg Performing Arts Center
15 - Milwaukee American Legion Band, 3 PM, South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
21 - Menomonee Falls Symphony, 7:30, Sussex Hamilton Fine Arts Center
30 - Knightwind Ensemble, 1 PM, Milwaukee County Zoo

4 - Milwaukee Festival Brass, 3 PM, Wisconsin Lutheran College

If you have dates for other community groups, please email them to me and I will add them to the list. Please remember that this blog is geared for adult, community oriented (volunteer) groups. I cannot post concert dates for professional or childrens groups. Thanks for you cooperation.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Would you like to play?

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. They also have a jazz ensemble, with many players performing in both groups. See their web site for more information: http://www.arcfile/com/tosaband/

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. Patricia 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 have 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. The Suburban Concert Band's site is at This group, like Tosa Band, also has a jazz ensemble.

The Greendale Village Band does not have a web site. 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 22, 2010

The summer is winding down

Other than the final concerts by the Racine Concert Band at the Racine Zoo (see last week's post for details), the summer concerts are now a thing of the past. It was a very good summer with many wonderful concerts. I hope you were able to enjoy many of them.

I will be working to assemble the calendar of concerts for the 2010-2011 season for the community bands in the area. I hope to publish the calendar on Sunday September 5. Next week is a list of the community bands in the area, for those who would like to join a group and play.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Final concerts in Racine

Just a reminder this week that the last of the summer community band concerts is being offered on Sunday evenings at the Racine Zoo. The Racine Concert Band is completing another summer series of concerts at the Zoo amphitheater right on the lake. Bring a chair or a blanket, maybe a snack or a beverage, and enjoy a concert under the stars. Don Rosen from WRJN is your host!

On August 15, the band welcomes mezzo soprano Allison Hull, who will perform tunes by George and Ira Gershwin. And Eric Weiss will solo on Leroy Anderson's Trumpeters Lullaby.

The music of the Big Bands will be featured on August 22, featuring the jazz stylings of Jeannie Hatfield, former Miss Racine and Miss Wisconsin.

Finally, on August 29, soprano Aimee Miller joins the band to perform Bless This House and Who Will Buy My Lavender. Saxophonist Margaret Schwingle will perform Come Sunday by Duke Ellington.

Don't miss these final concerts in the 2010 Summer Series by the Racine Concert Band.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Last two concerts in Lake Country

This week's post is a reminder that there are two concerts left in the summer season for the Hartland Community Band.

The first is Wednesday August 18 at 7:30 PM at the Band Shell in Oconomowoc. The other concert is the next evening, Thursday August 19 at 7:00 PM in Nixon Park in Hartland.

Then the Hartland Community Band takes a break until their Christmas Concert in December at Holy Hill. More on that later.

For all of you in the western suburbs, be sure to take in one of these two concerts. And for more information, see the band's web site:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

State Fair to feature State Marching Bands

The Wisconsin State Fair will showcase a number of Wisconsin's top marching bands on Sunday August 15 at 3 PM. This years show marks a continuation of the partnership between the State Fair and the Wisconsin School Music Association.

Unfortunately I have not been able to find the list of the different bands that will be performing that afternoon. If I can get that information, I'll post it as soon as I can. UPDATE 8/3: The poster for the event can be found at this link:

However, a Sunday afternoon with marching bands and cream puffs seems like a day in heaven to me. Be sure to mark you calendar. If you'd like to order tickets, here is the link:

And if you are not able to attend the state fair that day, be sure to support the school bands performing throughout every day at the fair. Those musicians are the future of our community bands and orchestras.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Q and A with Dr. Erik Janners - Part 2

Here are the last 5 questions I posed to the new Music Director of the Knightwind Ensemble.

MCM: What is your favorite: symphonic band piece? orchestral piece? popular piece? other?

EJ: This is like asking me to name my favorite star. I love them all! OK, OK, if you want me to pick just one piece for a favorite wind band work it would be...Russian Christmas Music by Alfred Reed. There are many others that I love, of course, but that is a work that, to me, will never go out of style - it will always powerfully affect students, performers, and audience members every time. Favorite Orchestral work: Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Among all the wonderful musical elements, and its colossal position at the top of the cannon of western art music, I also just love that the various companies who got together to standardize CD technology in the 1990s could only agree that the new CD format should contain a full performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony - the average performance being 74 minutes in length. If you ever wondered where the 74 minutes came from, there you go! For another favorite piece - gosh, I don't know. I know what I like in ANY piece of music, though - interesting melodic and harmonic lines, and the chance for players to really dig into the music and play. That is how I decide what I like in virtually all music, I guess.

MCM: During your career, did you play in any pop or rock groups?

EJ: Yes...can I just leave it at that? No, I guess not. OK fine. All through my high school years, I was the drummer and lead singer for a rock band which went by the hideous name of Burnt Toast and Jam. We did cover tunes mostly, and some original tunes in our later years (17 and 18!). Yes, I was the lead singer, no kidding. I was the Phil Collins of that band. It was a lot of fun and I wouldn't trade it for anything. However, last time I moved, I found some old recordings of that band, and after listening for about 2 minutes decided that those tapes should be permanently misplaced!

MCM: American or Canadian?

EJ: American - I guess the better phraseology would be United Statesian. To say one is American does not narrow it down very much - North or South American? I was born in San Antonia Texas and grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The only time I spent in Canada was three years I spent there in my first teaching position from 2001 to 2004. One of the things I would say, however, is that living outside the US is a very eye opening experience and one I would recommend to anyone. Even simply being in Canada, which most US citizens feel is the 51st state or something, you get a very different perspective of the world, and on what other countries think of the US. Very enlightening.

MCM: What do you enjoy most that is not music?

EJ: I love dogs - my wife and I have 2 dogs - a German Shepherd mix named Jesse, and a Dachsund named Oscar (Oscar the wiener dog). I also very much enjoy sports - football and college basketball (of course) and cycling. Yes, I am a Packers fan in case anyone is wondering and I am a true Packers fan. I started rooting for them when I was a kid in the UP of Michigan, when the quarterbacks were Lynne Dickey and David Whitehurst!

MCM: What are your goals for the first few years of your tenure as Music Director of the Knightwind Ensemble?

EJ: My goals for Knightwind are to: 1) bring more exposure to this wonderful ensemble, and 2) continue to select and perform wind band music of the highest quality to challenge the players. Sounds pretty simple, right? I would like to see if the Knightwind Ensemble can get invited to the Wisconsin Music Conference in Madison, and I would like to look into putting together a CD for sale by the group. Lastly, I plan on talking with the Board of Directors about the possibility of some sort of holiday pops concert - it seems like a natural event that we are missing out on as a part of our calendar.

There you have it! Q and A with Dr. Erik Janners, Director of Music at Marquette University and the newly appointed Music Director of the Knightwind Ensemble.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Q and A with Dr. Erik Janners, part 1

I promised some questions and answers with the new Music Director of the Knightwind Ensemble. Here are the first 5 questions and their answers. The next 5 will be posted next week.

Milwaukee Community Music: How did you first get involved with music?

Dr. Erik Janners: My mom and dad enrolled me in Suzuki violin at the age of 4 or 5 - I don't remember my exact age. I did violin, guitar, and piano on and off before finally deciding on percussion in about grade 8.

MCM: What convinced you that music was a calling and not a hobby?

EJ: I loved to play, I loved to perform, I was never bored by it, and I was continually challenged by music. That last point, really, is what is still true today - there is always something new, something more to learn or to get out of a piece. I also really enjoy the interpersonal aspect of music making - as a player I much prefer chamber music to solo work, and as a conductor I love the interaction between the ensemble and the conductor. The special dynamic that it brings to what we do is a constant source of energy and fascination for me.

MCM: What music other than "symphonic" or "classical" are you especially interested in, and why?

EJ: Jazz music or rock music up until 1990. I find much of what is played on the radio today as "pop" or "rock" to be utterly vacuous - the performers did not even write their own lyrics or their own music, and they are sampling someone else's guitar riff or something - usually from that time in the 1970's or 1980's when hard rock music had melody (Queen, Van Halen, etc.). I find much of the current pop music unlistenable for that very reason. Jazz, of course, is an art form all its own, and is a lot of fun to play and to direct as a conductor. Jazz is one of those musical styles where the more you know about the style, the more you like it. Of course, for many people who know nothing about jazz, they like it less.

MCM: What is on your iPod or CD Player?

EJ: Van Halen, Queen, Led Zepplin, Dave Matthews Band, Bela Fleck, Miles Davis (Sketches of Spain album is a must have for every musician), Charles Mingus, John Coltrane. Unless I'm listening to wind band music - I have a collection of over 2500 CDs of wind band music.

MCM: Things sometimes go wrong at concerts. Can you share an interesting or amusing "something gone wrong"?

EJ: For one that involves me personally, I remember a time when I was still an undergraduate and we were at the dress rehearsal for a concert. I think we were doing the 1st, 4th, and 5th movements of something and the 5th movement was the slow movement. So at the dress the conductor told us to be ready to perform the movements in the order 1/5/4 so we would end on a fast movement rather than a slow. At the concert we finished the 1st movement and all of us percussionists continued to sit quietly in the back as the 5th movement was next and involved no percussion - all of us that is except for the young lady playing cymbals. She got up and walked to the cymbals. None of us noticed right away - well, the 4th movement if it HAD been next, began with an ff cymbal crash, and so this girl picks up the cymbals and WHAM!!!!! Plays the loudest solo cymbal crash ever to start a slow and lyrical movement. We all forgot to tell her about the switch - she had missed the dress rehearsal. The conductor, to his everlasting credit, did not stop and kept right on going with the slow movement. He was, however, turning purple - not from anger but rather from trying to hold back his laughter, as we all were as well. The young lady, to her credit, stood there holding the cymbals high in the air, letting the sound die away, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, and the composer had written his slow movement that way. Needless to say, the rest of us percussionists got an earful from that cymbal player after the concert, for forgetting to tell her about that change.

Questions 6 to 10 are next week.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Concert Series - The Racine Concert Band

Sunday July 11 is the first in a series of Sunday evening concerts presented by the Racine Concert Band under the direction of Mark Eichner. Concerts begin at 7:30 in July and at 7:00 in August. All concerts will be at the amphitheater on the grounds of the Racine Zoo on Main Street. While the Zoo does charge admission during the normal hours, admission to only the concert is free (starting at about 30 minutes before the concert).

The Racine Band has a long history of free concerts and quality performances. They were a key part of the centennial celebration for the City of Racine, and they were awarded the Sudler Silver Scroll by the John Phillip Sousa Foundation. And, as a person who has seen many performances by the group, they are very enjoyable.

This Sunday's performance (the 11th) includes a trumpet solo by the Director Mark Eichner, a clarinet duet, and the ever popular Light Cavalry Overture. And, of course, every concert ends with a march by John Phillip Sousa.

So, for the rest of the summer, you have another option instead of reruns on TV or housework. Enjoy the summer concert series by the Racine Concert Band.

UPDATE July 12: Here is a list of the guests that will perform with the Racine Concert Band this summer:

July 18 - Greg Berg from WGDT radio will sing an aria from The Marriage of Figaro as well as some popular songs.

July 25 - Featuring a saxophone quartet and an oboe soloist

August 1 - The annual children's concert featuring Michael Snider narrating Casey At the Bat

August 8 - Featuring flute and alto sax soloists

August 15 - Mezzo soprano Allison Hull from UW-Parkside will sing some Gershwin standards

August 22 - Will feature the music of the Big Bands

August 29 - Soprano Aimee Miller will sing a number of selections and another saxophone feature

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day

Community Bands everywhere are busy today and tomorrow. Be sure to enjoy the parades and concerts in and around your area. What a great way to celebrate our independence by attending a concert in the park performed by your friends and neighbors!

For those of you near Greenfield, you may want to take in their 4th of July Parade. Their parade line up includes the Wisconsin Badger Band. While it's not the entire group, the Badgers will be there with the best pep band music in the world. And to top it off, at the end of the parade in Konkel Park, about 1:30, the Badgers will perform the famous 5th Quarter. So join in the fun, clap along, and maybe even do the Chicken Dance!

For those of you in and around Racine, the Racine Concert Band begins their summer concert series on the 4th. More information on that series soon.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Knightwind Ensemble Announces a New Music Director

At their March 21st concert, the Knightwind Ensemble announced the appointment of a new Music Director: Dr. Erik Janners, Director of Music at Marquette University. Dr. Janners begins his duties with the Knightwind Ensemble in the fall of 2010.

Dr. Janners comes to Milwaukee from St. Xavier University in Chicago, and the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada. At both of those Universities, he created conducting workshops to provide further conducting training opportunities to high school teachers and music students. In Canada and at Marquette, he expanded the band programs to two bands and founded University Wind Ensembles. And if that isn't enough, while in Saskatchewan, he created a television show entitled For The Love Of Music, which featured the music of concert bands and wind ensembles.

At Marquette, Dr. Janners conducts the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, and Pep Band, all the while supervising the overall Music Program. He also teaches courses in the University's Music Minor program, including music theory, conducting, and music history. He is a published author and has served as a featured clinician, not only at state music conferences, but also the Midwest Clinic.

In a future post, I'll do a Q and A session with Dr. Janners. If you have questions you'd like to ask, send them to the blog email address: I'll add them to my questions, and we can inundate Dr. Janners together!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Milwaukee Tradition Continues

The Milwaukee American Legion Band has performed summer concerts in Humboldt park as long as I can remember. They will perform again this year on Tuesday June 29 at 6:30 PM at the Chalet stage in Humboldt Park.

The concert begins with a small Dance Band performing standards, just to get you in the mood for an old fashioned band concert in the park. Then the entire concert band will perform one of their traditional patriotic concerts. No one follows that formula of programming more than the Milwaukee American Legion Band.

The concert is a part of the Chill On The Hill series, sponsored by the Bay View Neighborhood Association. Food vendors will be there for your snacking enjoyment. Their series is always a nice way to spend a pleasant summer evening.

So, pack your lawn chairs and your cooler and come to Humboldt Park, in Milwaukee's Bay View Neighborhood to hear a Milwaukee tradition: a summer concert by the Milwaukee American Legion Band. See you there on the 29th.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Shorewood Concert Band Summer Schedule

The Shorewood Concert Band will perform 4 concerts this year, including the Shorewood Men's Club Chicken Bar-be-cue Saturday the 12th (yesterday, and it was a great concert...and the chicken was great, too). Here are the other dates:
  • June 24, 7 PM at Atwater Park featuring Music from the Movies
  • July 4 at 6:30 PM as a part of the Shorewood 4th of July Celebration, A Red White and Blue Spectacular
  • July 15 at 7 PM at Atwater Park featuring a Salute to the Music of the Big Bands

Atwater Park is just north of Capitol Drive on Lake Drive. Street parking can sometimes fill up, so best to get there a little bit early and have your pick of the lawn. Remember to bring a chair or blanket for a comfortable seat.

If there is music you would like the Shorewood Concert Band to play, send your request to this email address: And for more information, you can also check the blog of the President of the Shorewood Concert Band at this link for more information: He tells me that his blog will include pictures, videos, and previews of upcoming concerts, so check it out!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hartland Community Band Summer Schedule

I received a nice note from the folks at the Hartland Community Band with their summer schedule. For those of you not familiar with the group, the Hartland Band performs a summer series of concert in and around the Hartland area, as well as a Christmas Concert every year at Holy Hill. Here is the schedule for this year's summer series.

  • June 25 - The first summer concert at Nixon Park in Hartland at 7 PM
  • June 27 - The band performs on a bandwagon through Hartland beginning at 1 PM
  • July 12 - A joint concert with the Fort Atkinson Community Band at the band shell in Barrie Park in Fort Atkinson at 7:30
  • August 18 - A special performance at the Band Shell in Oconomowoc at 8 PM
  • August 19 - The final summer concert at Nixon Park in Hartland at 7 PM

If you are in the area, be sure to look them up this summer. Sounds like a lot of fun.

And for those who like to plan ahead, the Hartland Community Band Christmas Concert at Holy Hill is set for December 5 at 3 PM.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

First Concert of the Summer Season

The first Summer Band concert is always in Shorewood. The Shorewood Concert Band kicks off the season performing in Atwater Park during the annual Chicken Barbecue hosted by the Shorewood Men's Club. So mark your calendar for Saturday June 12 for Barbecue Chicken prepared by Rupena's, and music by the Shorewood Concert Band.

This year, the Band begins the entertainment in the park at 12:30. It's still a bit early so I do not yet have a concert preview. As soon as I get info from the Director, Dr. Patricia Backhaus, I'll post it. But Dr. Pat's concerts are always fun and she prepares her groups well.

And if you've never had Rupena's chicken, you are in for a treat!

Atwater Park is at the corner of Lake Drive and Capitol Drive. But be aware that Capitol Drive is under construction and you might run into delays. If you are coming from the south, best to take Hampton Avenue east to Lake Drive and then go north. Similarly, if you are coming from the north, take Silver Spring to lake Drive and go south.

And if you take in the concert, stop by and say hello...I'll be there with a red Wisconsin Badger Band baseball cap!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Concert Preview - Milwaukee Festival Brass

The Milwaukee Festival Brass, Milwaukee's only British style brass band, performs music of a spiritual nature on Sunday June 6 at 3 PM in the Schwan Concert Hall of Wisconsin Lutheran College.

His Eye on the Sparrow features long time MFB member Brian Bolling on Flugelhorn. A trio of concert master Tom Traugott, soprano cornetist Dave Magoon, and Dave Mayer on Euphonium perform the World Premiere arrangement of The Prayer. Joshua Swings the Battle is a great piece by Stephen Bulla and will feature Andrew Sowatzke on Trumpet. Andrew is one of the members of the Milwaukee Festival Youth Brass, and is a student at Waukesha South High School.

The feature piece for the concert is Crusade by Reiks Van Der Velde. It is a programmatic work telling the story of a young man who leaves home to fight for his religion, but also in search of fame and glory. This may be the most difficult piece the MFB has programmed. Should be a good one.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $9 for Seniors and Students and can be purchased at the door. Be sure to leave plenty of extra time to get there because parking will be at a premium because of a graduation ceremony. The MFB has made arrangements for off-site parking and transportation to the concert hall. Click here for more information.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Memorial Day Concerts

There are three concerts on Memorial Day that you might want to attend, one by the Knightwind Ensemble, one by the Wauwatosa Community Band, and one by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Concert Band.

First up is the Wauwatosa Community Band. They are a part of the Memorial Day observance for the City of Wauwatosa. It will be held at Longfellow Middle School on the corner of 76th and North Avenue beginning at 10 AM. The band will provide patriotic music to accompany the ceremonies. See the Tosa Band site for more information.

In the afternoon, the Knightwind Ensemble will present its 21st Annual Memorial Day Pops Concert in the Peck Welcome Center at the Zoo at 1 PM. Besides some light classics, the Ensemble will perform music of Broadway, including selections from Les Miserables and the Overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein. Of course, there will be a march or two. And the concert will conclude with the annual Salute To The Armed Forces. The concert is free with your Zoo admission. Click here for Zoo information.

Later in the afternoon at 5 PM, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Concert Band will perform a concert observing Memorial Day at the War Memorial Center downtown. The program will include light classics, show tunes and marches. If your day is busy early on, this might be a nice way to end the weekend. Here is more information on the concert.

And be sure, however you spend your weekend, to spend some time on Monday May 31 honoring our veterans, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It is because of their sacrifice that we have our freedom.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

For the neighbors in/near Pewaukee

I don't have a lot of information about this concert, but I found out that the Hartland Community Band will be performing at a special Holiday event on Saturday May 29th at the Veterans Bell Tower Memorial, highway 164 and Capitol Drive.

The Hartland Community Band performs during the summer, so this is a bit early in the season for those folks. They'll be providing patriotic music for the ceremonies. If you are going to be in the area, be sure to take in the program, and enjoy the music of the Hartland Community Band. For more information, see the web site:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

For those of you to the South

I received word that the Racine Concert Band will be performing at Case High School in Racine, with the Case High School Band, on May 20th. I do not yet have information about the program, but I will post an update as soon as I have that information.

Just a word about the Racine Concert Band...the group is best known for their Summer Concert Series at the Racine Zoo on Sunday evenings. That series has been going for a very long time. The Racine Concert Band (RCB) was recognized by none other than the John Phillip Sousa Foundation as one of the best Community Bands in North America, when it awarded the band its Sudler Silver Scroll. That is a true honor as only the very best community bands receive that award.

So, be sure to see the Racine Concert Band with the Case High School Band on the 20th at 7:00 PM. And be sure to mark your Sunday evenings for Summer Concerts by RCB beginning on Sunday July 4th. What a way to kick off the concert season!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Concert Preview: Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra

First, don't forget the Waukesha Area Symphonic Band concert this Friday April 30 at Carroll University. See their web site for all the details:

The Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra presents National Treasures on Saturday May 8 at 7:30 PM in the Hamilton Fine Arts Center in Sussex. Featured on the program are the First and Second Place winners of the MFSO Young Artist Competition, harpist Christina Brier and violinist Ari Lipchik.

The program begins with the Sebelius masterpiece Finlandia, a treasure of Finland. The first half concludes with the performances of the soloists. Unfortunately, I do not know the works that will be performed by the soloists (not much help, I know). The concert concludes with the Dvorak Symphony #9, From The New World, one of our national treasures.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for Seniors, and $6 for Students and can be purchased at the door. For more information, you can visit their web site:

The MFSO just recently moved their rehearsals and concerts to the Hamilton Fine Arts Center in Sussex. The hall is wonderful for concerts, and the MFSO sounds very full and balanced there. When the MFSO played at the middle school in Menomonee Falls, the sound was not nearly as clear and full. They have found a new home for their concerts and we are the benefactors: better sounding concerts by a quality group. See you there!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Concert Preview - Wauwatosa Community Band

First, don't forget about the Dallas Brass coming to Wisconsin Lutheran High School on Sunday April 25th. You can order your tickets online at: Advance tickets are $15, at the door the price is $18. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Concert Band is expecting a sellout, so you better get your tickets early.

Also, if you are in the Fox Valley, the Oshkosh Horn Choir performs on Tuesday April 20 at 7 PM in the concert hall of the Music Building. The program includes classical favorites arranged for Horn Choir including Procession of the Nobles, and some movie music from Titanic. The best part is that the concert is free.

Now on to the concert preview. The Wauwatosa Community Band presents an evening of Patriotic Music on Tuesday May 4th at 7:30 PM in the auditorium of Longfellow Middle School, corner of 76th and North Avenue. Music Director Donna Kummer has chosen some favorites just in time for Memorial Day.

The feature piece on the program is an evergreen band classic: Gustav Holst's Second Suite in F. This suite is based on English folk songs, and is one of the cornerstone pieces of modern band music. For those of you who are not familiar, I suggest you attend the concert just to hear the last movement of this suite. Holst wanted to have two tunes played on top of each other, and he got that wish in the fourth movement when he juxtaposed the Fantasy on the Dargason and Greensleeves. The effect is wonderful.

Also on the program is Their Finest Hour by John Cacavas, George M. Cohan's Star Spangled Salute!, God Bless America, and The Ultimate Patriotic Sing-Along. Better warm up those vocal chords!

Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door. Students and Seniors are $3. The concerts are always a lot of fun, so if you haven't heard Tosa Band yet, this would be a great concert to attend. And if you have heard Tosa Band, then you know that this will be a fun evening.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Concert Preview: Waukesha Area Symphonic Band

The Waukesha Area Symphonic Band (WASB) will present Luminescence, their spring concert, on Friday April 30th at 7:30 PM in Shattuck Auditorium on the Carroll University campus. The concert is a part of the Waukesha Works For People series, and will benefit the Adaptive Community Approach Program (ACAP).

Featured on the program is clarinetist Sabrina Pruszka, the winner of the WASB 2010 Concerto Competition earlier this year. Sabrina is a Senior at Franklin High School and is studying with Linda Jones at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. She is also a member of both the UW-Milwaukee Youth Wind Ensemble, and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. She will perform the final movement (Rondo) from Carl Maria von Weber's Concerto Number 1.

Also on the program is Luminescence by David Biedenbender, the Adagio of Samuel Barber, and a Roger Cichy piece that I am not familiar with: Bugs. (Looks like a fun piece with movements entitled Dragonfly and Army Ants!)

The Waukesha Works For People is an annual concert event produced by WASB to help support other charities in and around Waukesha. Enjoy a wonderful concert and help support ACAP. (And besides, you don't want to miss music from the Star Wars Trilogy also on the program...)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Here's something different

There is an upcoming concert that is unique in community music. It is happening on the campus of UW-Oshkosh. On Tuesday April 20th, the Oshkosh Horn Choir under the direction of Dr. Bruce Atwell will perform in the Music Hall on Campus (800 Algoma Blvd.) at 7 PM. Admission is free.

The Choir is made up of french horn students studying with Dr. Atwell as well as volunteers from the community. The quality of the group is very good and Dr. Atwell attracts a lot of very good community players from all over eastern Wisconsin, coming from both the Milwaukee and Green Bay areas, as well as the Fox Valley.

If you've never heard a choir of french horns playing classical and popular music, I suggest you attend this concert. You will enjoy it immensely!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

MMCCB Welcomes the Dallas Brass

Good news!

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Concert Band, in conjunction with Wisconsin Lutheran High School, welcome the Dallas Brass on Sunday April 25th. The Brass will perform in the High School Auditorium beginning at 6 PM. Wisconsin Lutheran High School is on 84th Street, just south of Bluemound Road.

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of details available at this time. I have heard rumors of a possible master class, but those are only rumors. The information I have been able to confirm is that tickets will be $15 and are available at the door.

However, the Dallas Brass is a top notch group and the cost is very low. Having them here in Milwaukee is a treat you don't want to miss. As I get more information confirmed, I will post it. Until then, mark April 25th on your calendar!

Also, don't forget this Tuesday evening is a concert by the Milwaukee Festival Youth Brass at the Lincoln Center of the Arts at 7 PM.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A reminder and an audition notice for students

Be sure to attend the Knightwind Ensemble concert today, March 21, at 3 PM in the Schwan Concert Hall of Wisconsin Lutheran College. If you'd like a discount on the adult priced tickets in your group, see the website:, and click on the Next Concert link. If you print the page, you'll get $1 off the adult priced tickets for everyone in your party.

And say hello. I'll be selling the tickets!

Also, the Milwaukee Festival Youth Brass will be holding auditions on April 23 and 24. The Youth Brass, also directed by MFB Maestra Patricia Backhaus, welcomes brass and percussion student musicians from age 10 through 17. For the audition, students will be asked to perform a three to five minute solo or etude, scales, double and triple tonging and sight reading. Percussionists will be asked to play drum set, tympani, and mallet instruments.

Rarely can a student in that age range participate in a British style Brass Band; truly a unique experience.

And you can see the Milwaukee Festival Youth Brass perform on Tuesday evening March 30th at 7 PM, at the Lincoln Center of the Arts, 820 E. Knapp St. If you'd like more information regarding the auditions, please contact Maestra Backhaus at Or see the web site for more information:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Concert Preview: Wauwatosa Community Band

The Wauwatosa Community Band, better known as Tosa Band, performs on Tuesday evening March 16 at 7:30 in the Longfellow Middle School Auditorium, corner of 76th and North Avenue. Music Director Donna Kummer has chosen an Irish Music theme for the concert in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

While I do not have the details of the concert, their performances are always fun. You can follow Tosa Band, and their sister group Tosa Jazz, on the web site: And they are now on Facebook. See the link from their web site.

And don't forget the Knightwind Ensemble concert on the 21st at 3 PM at Wisconsin Lutheran College.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Concert Preview: Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Concert Band

First a reminder: The Milwaukee Festival Brass performs today at 3 PM. Don't miss it.

Now on the the concert preview. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Concert Band (MMCCB) will perform on Saturday March 27 at 3 PM in the Schwan Concert Hall on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College. The theme is Adventures in Music, and the program has many different styles of music aimed for younger students.

The program includes two classical standards. First, the band will perform Ravel's Bolero, an orchestral favorite that transcribes nicely for band. Also on the program is The Pines Of The Appian Way, the last movement from Respighi's Pines of Rome.

Featured on the program is the conductor, Karen Lippert, performing a fun clarinet piece called Pepperino. Also included is music from The Lion King. And a surprise special guest will make an appearance.

As I mentioned above, the program is aimed at introducing younger students (grade and middle school students) to classical music. A special treat will be intermission refreshments of cookies and milk! Kids of all ages will enjoy that.

So, mark your calendar for Saturday March 27th. The MMCCB concerts are always fun. Be sure to attend, and be sure to bring your kids. They'll have a great time, enjoy some cookies and milk, and learn about classical music.

And a note for April: the MCCB will welcome the Dallas Brass. The Brass will perform on Sunday April 25 at 6 PM at the Wisconsin Lutheran High School Auditorium. More information upcoming!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Check this out!

Maybe I should say, check out this quilt!

First a reminder that the Milwaukee Festival Brass will present Italia on Sunday March 7 at 3 PM in the Schwan Concert Hall on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College. Don't miss their performance of Pines of Rome. It will be something special.

But you also have a chance to win something special. The MFB is holding a raffle for this wonderful quilt. I love the motif: covered with eighth notes! Really something unique. The Brass will be selling tickets for $1 each or 6 tickets for $5. And you can get your raffle tickets at the concert.

So, be sure to attend the Milwaukee Festival Brass concert on March 7, not only for the great music - Pines of Rome - but to get your raffle tickets for this unique quilt! (If I win, I'm not giving it as a gift...I'm keeping it for myself!)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reminder: Young Artists Competition

Just a reminder that the applications for the Young Artist Competition held by the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra are due this Friday, February 26th. The first place finisher receives $500 and an opportunity to perform with the orchestra. The second place finisher receives $250 and an opportunity to perform with the orchestra. The auditions will be held on Sunday March 7 at Alverno College. Applicants can be no older than 25 on the day of the audition.

If you know a talented high school or college musician, here is a wonderful opportunity. You can get all the details, and an application, from the MFSO web site:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Concert Preview: Knightwind Ensemble, March 21

First a reminder: this is your last chance to get your tickets for the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra Dinner Concerts on Friday and Saturday evenings of Valentines Weekend, at the Silver Spring Country Club. Take your special someone to a nice dinner and a concert, and help the MFSO at the same time. All of the details are on the MFSO web site:

Mark your calendars for Sunday March 21st at 3 PM. The Knightwind Ensemble will present Transitions at 3 PM in the Schwan Concert Hall on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College. The concert will be directed by Associate Conductor Don Glassel. As some of you know, the previous director, John Steinke, stepped down as Music Director of the Ensemble after 32 years. The search for a new Music Director is underway, and this concert is indeed a transition from one music director to the next.

Mr. Glassel has chosen a number of new works for the Ensemble to perform, as well as some standards of the wind band repertoire. The new pieces include two from composers that Knightwind Ensemble concert goers will recognize: Timothy Mahr and Thomas Doss.

The Mahr composition is Mountain Prayers. He wrote it in honor of the retirement of Dr. Derald DeYoung of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Knightwind concert goers might remember that Dr. Mahr wrote Imprints, a work commissioned by the Knightwind Ensemble in 1989. Dr. Mahr's music is very approachable and always enjoyable.

The new piece by Austrian composer Thomas Doss is Magic Overture. In the words of the composer: "the piece was written as an anniversary present for the Burgermusik Gotzis in Austria. The magic of music and landscape in the Austrian Vortarlberg area spread throughout the little village." It's a wonderful little piece that I'm sure you will enjoy!

The program also includes the Symphony For Band by Vincent Persichetti, one of the really big pieces for wind band; the Giles Farnaby Suite of Gordon Jacob; and the first movement from Johan de Meij's Symphony Number One: The Lord of the Rings, which is a musical description of Gandalf the Wizard. A lot of great music for a Sunday afternoon!

For ticket information, please see the Knightwind Ensemble web site: Note that if you print the page with the concert announcement, you'll get $1 off the cost of the adult tickets in your group. And stop by to say Hi, as I will be selling the tickets!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Concert Preview: Milwaukee Festival Brass, March 7

Be sure to attend the Milwaukee Festival Brass concert on Sunday March 7 at 3 PM in the Schwan Concert Hall on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College. The March concert for the MFB always salutes the different ethnic groups in the Milwaukee area. This year, the concert features music of Italia.

A concert of Italian favorites must have a Rossini overture. Dr. Patricia Backhaus, the MFB Music Director, has chosen The Italian Girl in Algiers, always a favorite. Music by Puccini features Euphonium soloist Dave Mayer, in Nessun Dorma. And the feature work is a wonderful, and very difficult, brass band arrangement of The Pines of Rome, by Respighi. Wow! I wonder if the members will have any lip left after that one!

Tickets are $12 for adults and $9 for Seniors and Students. Group rates are available. For more concert information, see the web site: The concert is sponsored in part by our friends at the Foundation for Heart Science, Ltd.,

And one more thing to mention: the MFB will be partnering with the Hunger Task Force to fight hunger in the Milwaukee area. If you bring 2 or more non-perishable food items, you'll receive a discounted admission to the concert. A discount for helping doesn't get much better than that!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Young Artist Competition - Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra

The Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra will hold their annual Young Artist Competition on the afternoon of Sunday March 7th at Alverno College. Young Artists, no older than 25 on March 7th, may apply. The winner will receive $500 and an opportunity to perform with the Orchestra. The second place finisher will receive $250 and an opportunity to perform as well.

All the details of the competition, as well as the application, at at the Orchestra's web site:

And don't forget to pace your reservation for the Menomonee Falls Symphony Dinner and Concert at the Silver Spring Country Club on the 12th and 13th. See the web site above for details and reservation information.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Upcoming Concert: Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra

Our one Community Orchestra has a special concert coming up with two performances: Friday February 12 and Saturday February 13, both at 6:30 PM. The concerts will be held at the Silver Spring Country Club and will include dinner. This is the big fund raising event for the orchestra, but also a good time and wonderful music, just in time for Valentine's Day.

The theme of the concert this year, in keeping with Valentine's Day, is Romance: Mars and Venus. The program will include musical portrayals of romantic encounters between the sexes. I also have it on good authority that the concert will also include a preview of their classical concert coming up in May, which will include the New World Symphony of Antonon Dvorak.

Tickets are $40. The brochure with all the details and the ticket form are at the Orchestra's web site: Reservations are due by February 8th.

Not only is it a wonderful evening at a great price, you are also supporting the one Community Orchestra in our area. And that is wonderful in itself.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Waukesha Area Symphonic Band Concerto Competition

The Waukesha Area Symphonic Band is now taking applications for their annual Concerto Competition. It is open to all 9th through 12th graders in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee, Dodge and Jefferson Counties.

This year WASB is opening the audition to all instrument groups, so if your high school student plays a string instrument, he or she can audition as well (providing the solo work has an arrangement for Band). The winner will receive $500 and be invited to perform a selection with the Band at their concert on Friday April 30th. The Honorable Mention winner will be invited to perform with the Band at the concert on a selected piece.

The auditions will be held on Saturday February 20th in the Shattuck Music Center on the campus of Carroll University in Waukesha. The deadline for applications is Friday Jauary 22, 2010. The entry fee is $15. Questions should be emailed to And see the WASB web site for more details:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A change is coming

Actually, the change is in progress!

The Knightwind Ensemble of Milwaukee has had the same Music Director for over 30 years, until now. Maestro John Steinke retired as Music Director of the group after their November concert. Since that time, the Ensemble has been searching for candidates to replace the Maestro. A number of candidates have emerged and the interview process has begun. I expect we will hear more of the progress later in the spring. But for now, I can tell you that if you were interested in the position but had not submitted your resume, you are too late.

Some of you may know that I volunteer for the Knightwind Ensemble. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you that I am not a part of the process for evaluating the applicants for the Music Director position. However, as news becomes available, I will post it.

I can also tell you about the music planned for the Spring Concert on Sunday March 21 very soon. Rehearsals have begun and I will be able to discuss the program with the Associate Conductor and Acting Music Director Don Glassel.

More to follow.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

As Promised...

Below is the calendar of community concerts I have for the spring concert season. New to the list are the concerts of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Concert Band. They will have a spring concert in March, and a concert on Memorial Day. They will also participate with the Wisconsin Lutheran College Band in a joint concert with the Dallas Winds in April. That will be an event you won't want to miss. The event will include a Master Class for musicians and students. More on that event in the coming weeks.

Until then, something for your calendar, or maybe your refrigerator!

12 & 13 – Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra, Silver Spring Country Club, Dinner/Concert
20 – Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, Concerto Competition open to wind and percussion players in grades 9 through 12, time TBA

7 – Lakeshore Symphonic Band, Cedarburg PAC
7 – Milwaukee Festival Brass, Wisconsin Lutheran College – Italia, 3 PM
16 - Wauwatosa Community Band, Longfellow Middle School, 7 PM
21 – Knightwind Ensemble, Wisconsin Lutheran College, 3 PM
27 - Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Concert Band, Wisconsin Lutheran College, 3 PM

25 - Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Concert Band welcome the Dallas Brass, Wisconsin Lutheran College, 6 PM, Master Class in the afternoon
30 – Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, Carroll University – Luminescence, 7:30

6 - Wauwatosa Community Band, Longfellow Middle School, 7:30
8 – Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra, Sussex Hamilton Fine Arts Center, 7:30
16 – Lakeshore Symphonic Band, Cedarburg PAC
16 - Milwaukee American Legion Band, Milwaukee Lutheran High School, 3 PM
31 - Knightwind Ensemble, Milwaukee County Zoo, 1 PM
31 - Wauwatosa Community Band, TBD
31 - Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Concert Band, Milwaukee County War Memorial, 5 PM

6 – Milwaukee Festival Brass, Wisconsin Lutheran College – Spirituelle, 3 PM