Just for the Fun of It (Ron Knoener, Associate Editor for Amateurs)
I would like to share a unique and personal musical experience with you.
My family and I have been involved with the Kiel, Wisconsin, Municipal Band for almost 30 years. I play euphonium with the band, and my daughters, Lori (tuba), Kristin (oboe), and Rachel (trombone) have all played with the band at some time. The band is strictly an amateur organization. No one (except the conductor) gets paid for rehearsals or performances. The band has performed at the Midwest Clinic twice; at National Band Association State and National Conventions; has hosted several Wisconsin Bandmasters Conventions, and has hosted and performed at an American Bandmasters Convention. The Kiel Municipal Band (KMB) has also received the Sudler Scroll Award from the John Philip Sousa Foundation, which recognizes outstanding community bands.
The “wedding reception tuba/euphonium ensemble” from the Kiel Band. This one included the bride, Lori Knoener (far right- the one in white, of course), the father-of-the-bride (front row, far left behind his euphonium), and bridesmaid Tracy Ruckwardt (back row, far left).
A little over two years ago, during a phone conversation, Lori (tuba) said that when she got mariied she wanted the KMB to play for the wedding. There was one of those pregnant pauses from my side of the line, after which I said “I think you’re NUTS!!” Things were left at that until about a year ago when it turned out that she WAS going to get married. She still insisted that she wanted the band to play for the wedding, using Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral as a processional, and insisted that I compose the recessional. When I approached the leaders of the KMB, they all thought that it was a unique idea and were all for it, but added that it would have to be brought before the membership at the KMB Annual Meeting. When brought up at the meeting, everyone thought it was a great idea.
The wedding was supposed to be held outside, but weather made that impossible. Our church, in which everything is moveable, was set up “in the round” with the altar in the center of the church and all of the chairs and benches surrounding it on three sides. The band filled in the fourth side. It made for a very intimate setting in which everyone, especially the band, felt a part of the ceremony. The band played for 30 minutes before the ceremony began, using an assortment of music from standards to classical. When the first notes of Elsa’s Procession were heard the wedding party began processing. (Even the groomsmen processed.) We had the timing down so that the notes of the final two measures were being sounded as Lori reached the altar. It was an incredible experience for everyone in attendance. The band has not given a finer performance than it did on that day.
It’s the reception, though, that has a real connection to this column. The euphonium and tuba section of the KMB, with several added players who wereinvited to the wedding, performed some ragtime pieces and polkas for the crowd, just to give the DJ a break. Among the pieces performed were Broadway Onestep and Kentucky Sunrise by Karl King, Bumme/ Petrus (Lazy Peter) an old German folksong, the Zillertaler Hochzeitsmarsch (another German folksong/dance), and Rosamunde (Beer Barrel Polka). The group had a great time playing and the people at the reception had a great time listening and dancing. It is probably the only time a group of this type has performed at a wedding and had the bride and one of the bridesmaids as members of the group. It is also worth mentioning that both the bride and the bridesmaid who played are graduates of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and were members of the euphonium/tuba ensemble BASSically BRASS. The evening is one that will be remembered by both players and audience alike. (The DJ wanted us to play at a house party on July 4th, but unfortunately we had a parade to march in the morning and a concert to play in the evening.)
This is one example of the involvement of amateur euphonium and tuba players in a unique situation. Hopefully this will generate some ideas for other amateur groups. No situation is too farfetched. Please write and let us know of some of the unique and fun things your group has done. We can all put these ideas to good use. Till next issue-keep playing “just for the fun of it.”