By Rick Cohler
For the previous 41 years, space music lovers have been handled to free month-to-month live shows by the All Volunteer Band, previously the Allouez Village Band.
The band was fashioned in 1981 by space music trainer Robert Seering.
Three unique members — Sara Wanek, Marge Boulanger and Carol Osgood — are nonetheless enjoying with the band.
The 75-member band performs month-to-month live shows from September by Could and is devoted to its mission of supporting the values of neighborhood satisfaction, group spirit and patriotism by its public performances.
The primary factor AVB Director Mike Ajango desires the group to know is that they play some fairly good music.
“The psychological picture that many group bands have is that they’re only a polka band out within the park. We’ve grown steadily since I took over, and we’ve a ready listing for nearly each part,” Ajango stated. “I feel the notion is the essential factor.”
For example, the band will carry out John Williams’ “The March from 1941” as a precise transcription fairly than an association.
“Usually what occurs is when you’ve got a bit, say by Gershwin, we’re not going to do the very same association that Gershwin wrote for a symphony — we’re going to do an association that some arranger has tailored for a band. This one, although, is straight out of Williams’ pen. It’s robust and we’ve spent a number of time engaged on it.”
Ajango was 6 years outdated when he began enjoying accordion as a result of his dad performed the instrument.
“I wished to be within the band,” he stated. “My mother truly known as the band director and requested if the accordion could possibly be labored into the band. He stated no, it’s not going to occur.”
So Mike switched to the trumpet and continued enjoying by highschool and faculty.
After instructing highschool music and band in Somerset and Columbus, Wis., he and his spouse, Jan, have been able to make the transfer to Los Angeles the place Ajango wished to construct a profession writing film scores.
However the sky-high rates of interest of the Nineteen Eighties prevented the sale of their house, and Ajango launched into what could be a 30-year profession in monetary administration.
Ajango remained concerned in music, judging marching bands and drum and bugle corps competitions nationally and internationally for 25 years together with being an energetic church musician.
He turned acquainted with Robert Seering Jr., who instructed him his dad was contemplating retiring from the band, so Ajango joined the band enjoying French horn.
He then turned assistant director for a time and finally turned director with Seering serving as his assistant.
The band moved from the auditorium within the Brown County Library to the Meyer Theater in 2001.
Enter the conductor
Shortly after that, now Assistant Director Paul Aleksy joined the band.
“I, like Mike, wished to be an expert musician once I was younger,” Aleksy stated. “However once I was in highschool, I spotted I like issues like meals and shelter so I turned a mechanical engineer. I labored at that for some time till I spotted that wasn’t my cup of tea.”
Mike Ajango, director of the All Volunteer Band. Submitted Picture
After touring for a bit he turned a part-time trainer, then adopted his spouse, Sumedha, to the state of New York and labored at Steinway & Sons Piano Co.
The couple returned to Wisconsin in 1996 the place he taught half time and helped increase his daughters.
He additionally returned to creating music, joined AVB as a French horn participant and performed within the percussion part.
Aleksy additionally performs within the Civic Symphony of Inexperienced Bay.
“Mike requested me if I used to be fascinated about conducting,” he recalled. “I hadn’t carried out that earlier than so I discovered as I went, and it’s turned out to be a fairly good gig. Whereas I by no means studied music in faculty — I simply continued to play all through my life — however all of the experiences introduced me to some extent the place I get to play a number of actually cool music with a number of good musicians. I’m so grateful there are such a lot of alternatives like that in Inexperienced Bay.”
Aleksy stated AVB isn’t fairly to the purpose the place they’re skilled musicians.
“We don’t have auditions; we enable nearly anyone to return in so long as they’re match,” he stated. “One of many challenges I’ve is discovering the precise picks of music that can each fulfill a few of our actually good musicians however not be too onerous for the remainder in order that they don’t change into discouraged.”
Aleksy’s philosophy in music choice is to first fulfill the viewers, then fulfill the musicians and have some enjoyable doing it.
“As a result of if we’re performing to an empty home, we don’t get that power again. But when there’s a full home they usually’re having time we get the power again,” he stated.
Live performance goers are additionally entertained by the mild teasing backwards and forwards between Aleksy and the band’s announcer, Bruce Deadman, who changed long-time announcer Mary Eisenreich.
“Mary and I had a chemistry,” Aleksy stated. “She gave it again to me greater than I gave to her, so we had banter backwards and forwards. So when Bruce took over I instructed him he had some fairly huge sneakers to fill. He’s carried out an excellent job — it’s a love of what we’re doing. He does a number of analysis on the story line, and he interacts nicely with the viewers.”
Every live performance additionally options singing “Completely satisfied Birthday” to all these within the viewers celebrating that month, and every efficiency ends with the singing of “God Bless America.”
A nod to the Allouez Village Band
Through the pandemic, whereas the band rehearsed on-line, the all-volunteer group had time to judge the group’s future, based on the band’s publicity coordinator, Nancy Barthel.
“We rebranded to raised describe the band as it’s at this time — AVB is a nod to our beginnings because the Allouez Village Band and at this time describes us because the ‘All Volunteer Band,” Barthel stated. “Group in our identify higher describes who we’re as we symbolize many communities within the space. With our rebranding, we additionally had the chance to maneuver our live shows to a number of venues.”
The November Veterans Tribute live performance can be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 within the Walter Theater on the St. Norbert Faculty campus in De Pere; the Christmas Live performance can be 7 p.m. Dec. 12 on the Weidner Middle; and in February, the Riverside Ballroom will host a Sunday afternoon huge band and jazz live performance at 2 p.m.
Behind the scenes
The person behind the scenes at AVB who retains all of the components working so as, is Brent Hussin, who’s president of the board and band supervisor.
“I maintain arranging the rehearsals, scheduling the venues, working with the sponsors, sustaining the social media platforms, sustaining mailing lists — type of somewhat little bit of all the things,” he stated. “As soon as the season will get going it’s fairly easy crusing, but it surely’s simply getting issues lined up over the summer season months.”
Hussin has been enjoying trumpet with the band for about 16 years and concerned in band administration for about 14 years.
Doug Youra is the band’s music librarian, and Gene Burmeister serves as treasurer.
Different board members are Kellie Beno, Kathy Lieburn and Mary Rehberg.
Enterprise and particular person sponsors make it doable to maintain the live shows free, and memberships and sponsorships are welcomed.
For extra details about the AVB, membership, donation and a whole season lineup go to avbcommunityband.org.