With the help of the Lake Wobegon® Brass Band, Anoka-Ramsey Community College now has a gleaming set of timpani, percussion equipment, a new marimba and scholarships for many music students.
It’s all part of a partnership between the college and the band that began when the band formed in 1992. Anoka-Ramsey Community College became a co-sponsor of the group, offering reduced rental fees for the group’s rehearsals and performances. In turn, the Lake Wobegon® Brass Band (www.lwbb.org) has donated about $35,000 for band instruments during the last 22 years. An additional $10,000 in scholarships for music students has been donated over the last seven years.
“We’re fortunate to have this relationship with Anoka-Ramsey Community College,” said Richard Perkins, a founding member of the band who is also on the college’s Music faculty. “We’re a non-profit organization, and this partnership works well for both of us, and it benefits our community.”
“We appreciate the contributions from the Lake Wobegon® Brass Band, which is a community asset that helps strengthens our Music program,” said Interim Dean of Student Life Lisa Harris.
A semi-professional group, the Lake Wobegon® Brass Band is made up primarily of music educators and long-time amateur musicians who perform nine concerts a year, in addition to other appearances. Nine band members have been with the group since its inception, though more than 150 musicians have participated with the ensemble over the past 22 seasons.
The mission of the band, which just released its sixth CD, is to promote British brass band music throughout the Midwest. Brass bands in Great Britain date back to the 1800s when many towns featured brass bands at parades, concerts and other events, Perkins said. The group received permission from Garrison Keillor to use the name “Lake Wobegon®.” Minnesota can claim one other British brass band, which is the Sheldon Theater Brass Band, based in Red Wing.
British brass bands typically use different instruments than American brass bands. Specifically, cornets, which offer a mellower sound, are used in place of trumpets, Perkins said. The Lake Wobegon® band has 28 musicians, including one E flat soprano cornet; nine B flat cornets, one flugelhorn, three E flat tenor horns, two British-style baritones, two euphoniums, two tenor trombones, one bass trombone, two E flat tubas, two B flat tubas, three percussionists and one conductor.
The college offers a two-year associate in fine arts degree in Music that leads most students to a baccalaureate music program at a nearby university or college. Anoka-Ramsey is also developing a Music Business certificate to provide budding musicians and others with the skills to become successful professional musicians, producers, agents or recording engineers.