It’s time for that old tuba gathering dust in the closet to relive its glory days. The newly formed Gustavus Campus Band held its inaugural performance Nov. 24 and is on the hunt for new members.
The 40-piece ensemble consists of community members, Gustavus faculty and staff, and students. The idea for the band grew out of the need for a third band due to booming numbers in the Gustavus band program, as well as the need for conducting outlets for the rapidly expanding music education major.
Mankato West Director of Bands and Gustavus alum Brady Krusemark ’05 was hired to lead the group. He says the mix of ages and backgrounds brings unique perspectives and experiences to music making. “We talk a lot about how music has the ability to bring people together, and this ensemble has been a wonderful example of that,” he says. “Our members might lead very different day-to-day lives, but when we come together to make music, it's as if we've known each other for years.”
Associate Professor in Psychological Science Lauren Hecht has played clarinet since fourth grade and played seriously throughout high school and college. But after moving to Saint Peter in 2010, she hadn’t found a group that fit her schedule raising two young children. She joined the band on bass clarinet this fall and has enjoyed the chance to reignite her love of music.
“My experience with the Gustavus Campus Band has grounded me and is reminding me of all the aspects I love about playing in a band,” she says. “The positive attitude. Dedication. Connecting with others on multiple levels that is reinforced through what we do as an ensemble - listening closely to one another as we work together to create a meaningful piece of music.”
Professor in Psychological Science Mark Kruger brings a wealth of experience as a horn player to the ensemble. With more than 50 years of playing under his belt, he’s performed with several Gustavus ensembles, taken lessons with the principal horn player of the Milwaukee Symphony, and performed with the Mankato Symphony. As a psychologist, his research has been centered on brass performance. Kruger says Krusemark goes out of his way to make the experience welcoming for everyone. “He is positive and understands what a 'community' group ought to be about,” he says. “We are making music in an upbeat and fun environment where students and adults can learn together.”
Another key part of the ensemble is the leadership of student conductors and music education interns. During the first performance two music education majors conducted pieces and nine music education interns assisted the ensemble by playing secondary instruments, leading sectionals, and other tasks as needed. “I believe this has been one of the best parts of this ensemble experience,” Krusemark says. “It's always a joy to see conducting students develop and find their own leadership style while working with a live ensemble. We've been able to hear their unique voices, learn from their perspectives and insights, and provide a safe space for them to take on the challenge of leading an ensemble.”
For those who might be hesitating because it has been a while since they’ve touched their instrument, Hecht encourages them to give it a try. “If anyone's worried about their "chops" (playing ability), they should know that for every person who has been and still is consistently playing their instrument, there are just as many for whom it's been many years since we've been playing or are students learning to play a second instrument,” she says.
Krusemark agrees. “Music-making can truly be a life-long endeavor,” he says, “and it's never too late to get back into it.”
The Campus Band currently has openings for all instruments. The ensemble resumes rehearsals from 7:15–8:45 p.m. on Thursday nights in February. For more information or to join the band, please contact Krusemark at email@example.com or call the Gustavus Department of Music at 507-933-7364.