Band History: Week 9

We celebrated our alumni during our concert on August 5th.

Week 9, August 5, 2015
Written by Ruth Bures, read by Dan Barr

The Winona Municipal Band has weathered many storms, literally and figuratively.

One Wednesday Dr. Lindner had been happy that it was a beautiful sunny day and began the rehearsal as usual at 6. Weather came in from the west most times and the sky was clear in that direction.  Rehearsal went as planned until someone who had been listening to the practice walked up the stairs and said, “Mr. Lindner, I think you should look at the sky behind the band shell”. A huge black storm cloud was racing in from the east. Everyone moved back into the band shell as far as possible, but got drenched anyway. Hail hit the timpani and added to the sound effects. A few of us made a break for our cars and watched trees fall around us. The storm blew over quickly and we actually played that concert!

Other storms came and went, too, A while back a letter was published in the paper, wondering why the band didn’t do more promotional work for the city. But the writer answered his own question by saying he was told there weren’t funds available for the band to travel. A long time former Winona Daily News editor opined that the band should give concerts on Sunday afternoons but the Wednesday evening tradition has continued. Steamboat Days parades were pretty uneventful, sometimes hot, sometimes rainy.  Dr. Barr recalls one when an aggressive reporter was delaying marchers with his constant interviews. Director Lindner amused everyone by marching the band directly at him, forcing his hasty retreat. When the Olympic torch passed through Winona in 1996 the bearers were entertained by the Winona Municipal Band. The band members themselves were entertained briefly by a streaker who flashed by a few years ago.

We are very thankful that the City Council and the Park and Recreation Department have always supported the band. At times eliminating the band has been brought up and Dick Lindner described being asked to a council meeting to explain what he was being paid for. His answer satisfied the doubters because the band survived. Maynard Johnson, head of the Winona Park and Recreation Department, was concerned about the band during the 2008 economic downturn when many city budgets were reduced. “This was the first time I was ever worried about the Municipal Band Budget or the entire Municipal Band being discontinued, but the Council continued to support the Municipal Band.” Of course, even now it never hurts to let your elected officials know that you enjoy the concerts and appreciate the Municipal Band.

What’s it like to play in the band? You’ve already heard how hot it can be. The cement shell is a little like a pizza oven on hot days when our rehearsals start at 6 pm. Someone in the trumpet section once measured the temperature at 114 degrees! The angle of the sun makes it a challenge for some to watch the conductor during practices. On windy nights, we find clothespins useful for keeping the music on our stands.

We are usually sight-reading the music at rehearsal. The director has to know ahead of time what tricky parts will need extra woodshedding. While most of us have experienced what one brass player calls the “stink eye” from the conductor when we play during a rest, miss an accidental or a tempo change, we all have felt gratified when he smiles at something we did beautifully.

There are occasionally some clever asides from the back row or the clarinet section that make everyone chuckle. Other funny things happen, too like someone starting the wrong piece of music by accident or dropping a metal mute. One member of the trumpet section was well known for failing to silence his cell phone. Another member of that same section delighted in calling him and watching him frantically grope for his phone to shut it off!

When the concerts begin in June, there are always a few birds that have built their nests on the ceiling lights overhead. They are busy chirping and flying in and out as we practice, but our sounds must not bother them because they return each year. As far as we know, no player has ever been splattered by one!

Through June and early July, we finish our concerts in daylight, but by the middle of August it is pretty dark at the end, like tonight. For many years Dick and Jane Lindner had a party at their home for the players at the end of the season. How we enjoyed Jane’s amazing chocolate bars, and Gladys Delano’s frozen fruit concoction! More recently we have gathered for goodies at the Goodview establishment of French horn player, Jenny Laturno.

There are several married couples who currently play in the band, Janet and Eric Heukeshoven, Levi and Kim Lundak, Dustin and Mandy Moburg, Jenny and Thad Welch, and Kari and Eric Johnsrud, and Frank and Ruth Bures. But trumpeter Kathy Sherman Munson (who joined Ashley Hall and John Mundy on a trumpet trio a couple weeks ago) has a lovely story to share: “In the 2010 season, a fellow band-mate introduced me to a new trombone player in the band, Nathan. After an awkward first encounter during “break”, we went on a kayak and swimming mini-adventure.  His wholesome charm and overwhelming kindness eventually won me over, and we were married in 2013.” Nathan played 3 seasons with WMB but at this time his schedule does not allow him to play. We hope he comes back!

We would like to recognize band alumni and band alumni families in our audience tonight. Please stand if you have ever played in the Winona Municipal Band. Now stand up if you had a family member who plays or used to play in the Winona Municipal Band?

Committed and supportive people like you are what have made this band the great organization it is!