Lake Wobegon® Brass Band to perform 20th anniversary spectacular

By Elyse Kaner
Staff Writer

Lake Wobegon® Brass Band returns to its home at Anoka-Ramsey Community College to perform in concert as part of the group’s 20th anniversary celebration. Michael Halstenson directs.

Lake Wobegon® Brass Band will play at Anoka-Ramsey Community College March 4. The band is celebrating its 20th anniversary. (Photo courtesy of Kaye Bird)

The Spectacular Anniversary Concert will be held March 4, 2 p.m., at the college at 11200 Mississippi Blvd., Coon Rapids.

Expect to hear such pieces as Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” and Meredith Willson’s “Seventy-Six Trombones” from “The Music Man.” The song features Mark Springer on trombone.

Springer, a music professor at State Cloud State University, has performed with such groups as the Minnesota Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, Madison Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra.

Other featured selections in the anniversary concert are James Curnow’s “Ceremonia Fanfare,” “The William Tell Overture” and “Ol’ Man River,” to name a few.

The second part of the program opens with a world premiere of Halstenson’s composition, “Spargens Mirum Sonum,” which translates to wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth.

As a bonus, the band will play British composer Philip Wilby’s “Beyond Far Horizons,” a special piece commissioned by LWBB.

Wilby premiered and conducted the piece Feb. 16, which LWBB performed at the Minnesota Music Educators Association’s Mid-Winter Clinic held at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Wilby also directed “Horizons” two days later when the band played in concert at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi.

Written specifically for brass bands, the eight-minute contemporary piece features “shimmering cornet sounds” simulating the flow of a river, said Gordy Nilsen, a founder of LWBB. The piece is about the River Severn in rural mid western England. But we’re also thinking of the Rum and Mississippi rivers’ convergence in Anoka, Nilsen said.

Band members first met Wilby when they performed on tour in England back in 2001.

Wilby has a reputation as a prominent brass band composer across the pond.

Halstenson, a composer in his own right, professional musician and orchestra teacher at Anoka High School, first hosted the LWBB years ago at Peace Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids when he was a choir director there.

“He expected six guys to show up and play a polka,” Nilsen said. “We showed up with 29 guys and a conductor playing some pretty sophisticated music,” Nilsen said, laughing.

Nilsen and Dave Peterson, both former band directors at Anoka-Hennepin School District, started LWBB. Charles Olson, former band teacher at Anoka High School, was the group’s first director. After a two-year hiatus, the band regrouped, a third founder Rick Perkins came aboard and LWBB was off to a two-decades gig. And still going strong.

Radio personality Garrison Keillor gave his blessings to the band’s name in exchange for their promise to play for one of his Prairie Home Companion shows.

Tickets for the March 4 concert are $10 and may be purchased by calling 651-587-4191 or e-mail [email protected] Seating is limited.

For more information on the band, visit

Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]

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