Sunday, September 30, 2012

Concert Preview: Milwaukee Festival Brass

The Milwaukee Festival Brass will present its first concert of the season on Sunday October 21st at 3 PM.  The venue will be St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church at 1615 Wauwatosa Avenue in Wauwatosa.  The Brass will be under the baton of new Music Director Mark A. Taylor.  He was kind enough to send a preview of the concert.  Rather than my paraphrasing his words, here is his summary.

The Milwaukee Festival Brass opens its 2012-13 concert season by welcoming newly-appointed Music Director Mark A. Taylor in a concert devoted to themes of Autumn. Entitled “Homecoming,” the program explores various aspects of the holidays and traditions we enjoy during the fall months. The concert opens with a jazzy, Broadway-style rendition of Hughie Cannon’s wartime hit, “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home?” The concert also includes works by Eric Ball, one of the twentieth century’s most prolific and virtuosic writers for British brass bands, as well as Drew Fennell, a young American brass band composer. Douglas Court’s “Harvest Festival March” playfully disguises quotations from a familiar Thanksgiving tune.

The performance will feature performances by three soloists from the Milwaukee Festival Brass: Tom Mohr on trombone, Marty Kuphall on cornet, and Edman Leung on E-flat tuba. Special guest artist Melinda Voelcker, a jazz and contemporary singer from the Chicago area, will join the band for a rendition of Cole Porter’s iconic tune “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.”

The centerpiece for this table of sumptuous musical delights will be the band’s performance of Philip Wilby’s “Paganini Variations.” This towering, monumental work is one of the most challenging pieces in the brass band repertoire. Constructed around a theme (originally created by Niccolo Paganini) followed by a set of intricate and unique variations, the piece serves as a sort of auditory homecoming: each time the listener hears the familiar opening theme in its new version, it is like a return to a musical home base.

The Milwaukee Festival Brass will present “Homecoming” on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Evangelic Lutheran Church, 1615 Wauwatosa Avenue in Wauwatosa, WI. Tickets are $12, or $9 for seniors and students. Group rates are available. For more information, please visit the band’s website at

For those who have not heard music played on the instruments of a British Brass Band, be sure to attend this concert.  The music will be wonderful, and the sound of the British instruments is rich and full.  I know I will be there!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Not much news

Not much news in the last week, so this post will be short.  All the community music groups have begun rehearsing, some are still auditioning new members.  As I get more information on the upcoming concerts, I will post it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A neat concert in Watertown and news from West Allis

Mark September 25 on your calendar.  There will be a special performance at 2 PM in the Auditorium at Luther Prep in Watertown by Dr. Patricia Backhaus.  We know her as the Music Director of the Shorewood Concert Band during the summer months.  But Dr. Pat also performs shows reenacting Helen May Butler, also known as the Female Sousa.

Dr. Pat will be in full costume portraying Ms. Butler, one of the first female band directors.  For background information about Helen May Butler and her accomplishments, please click here.

The concert will be presented for a free will offering.  Dr. Pat's performances are musically enjoyable and always fun.  This concert is not offered regularly, so if you can, be sure to attend.

Now onto the West Allis news.  Some of you might have seen a comment from the Suburban Concert Band as a response to my post about different bands in the area.  The information is important and I want to repeat it today.  The Suburban Concert Band is looking for members for both the Concert Band and Jazz band.  There is a special need for clarinets, trumpets, and trombones.  The group rehearses on Thursday evenings at 7 PM at Nathan Hale High School, 116th and Lincoln Avenue.  If you would like more information, please contact Leslie Hall at (262) 797-8376 or email to  The post also stated that the Suburban Band is looking for a Music Director for this season.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

2012 - 2013 Concert Season Calendar

Here is a list of the concerts for the community bands and orchestras in and around the Milwaukee Area that I found in my search. These concerts are always fun and many are outstanding. We are truly blessed here in the Milwaukee area, to have so many community groups performing for our enjoyment at an extremely low cost. Be sure to mark your calendar to include as many of these concerts as you can.

There are a couple of groups that have not published their concert dates yet. As soon as I learn those dates, I'll get them listed.

And if you have concert dates that I have missed, please email them to me and I will update the calendar and post the additions. Thanks.

7 - Hartland Community Band, 3 PM, Oconomowoc Arts Center
21 - Milwaukee Festival Brass, 3 PM, St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wauwatosa
21 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, 4 PM, Cedarburg PAC
28 - Menomonee Falls Symphony, 2 PM, Sussex Hamilton PAC

11 - Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, 7:30 PM, Shattuck Auditorium, Carroll University
18 - Knightwind Ensemble, 3 PM, South Milwaukee PAC

2 - Menomonee Falls Symphony, 2 PM, Sussex Hamilton PAC
2 - Hartland Community Band, 3 PM, Holy Hill National Shrine
14 - Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, 7:30 PM, Shattuck Auditorium, Carroll University
16 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, 6PM, Basilica of Holy Hill
16 - Milwaukee Festival Brass, 3 PM, Wisconsin Lutheran College

No concerts

15 and 16: Menomonee Falls Symphony Dinner Concert, 6:30 PM, Silver Spring Country Club
16 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, Children's Concert, TBA

3 - Milwaukee Festival Brass, 3 PM, St. John's Lutheran, Brookfield
3 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, 4 PM, Cedarburg PAC

21 - Knightwind Ensemble, 3 PM, South Milwaukee PAC

3 - Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, 7:30 PM, Shattuck Auditorium, Carroll University
5 - Lakeshore Symphonic Band, 3 PM, Cedarburg PAC
11- Menomonee Falls Symphony, 7:30 PM, Sussex Hamilton PAC
12 - Milwaukee Festival Brass, 3 PM, Wisconsin Lutheran College
27 - Knightwind Ensemble, 1 PM, Wisconsin Memorial Park

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Milwaukee Festival Brass Opportunities for Youth

I wanted to post a special alert to younger musicians about a special opportunity.  The Milwaukee Festival Brass will again open its Apprentice Program to qualified high school musicians.  This is unique because of the wonderful training and mentoring each student receives from the talented adult musicians in the group.

The Milwaukee Festival Brass is unique in the Milwaukee area in that they are a British Style Brass Band using British instrumentation.  So, for example, there are no trumpets in the group, but there are different types of Cornets.  You won't find a French Horn in the MFB, but there are Alto Horns.

The best way to learn more about the Apprentice Program is to check the MFB web site.

And Good Luck to all who audition!