About the Seward Concert Band
The mission of the Seward Concert Band is to provide for the education and growth of our members and audience through the public performance of music. Just under 400 amateur musicians have played with our community band in the past 45 years and one current member of the band is an original founder.
The idea for the Seward Concert Band began in 1977 in the mind of Judy Wohlueter, a Seward oboist, who started talking to neighbors about making music together. Very soon, an initial committee was formed that set out these goals:
- Meet neighbors who share an interest in making music
- To participate in a regularly scheduled rehearsal group
- To renew instrumental music skills
- To serve as role models to young students
- To support young students in their music making
The first band members were recruited by a questionnaire, door to door leafleting, articles in “The Seward Profile” and the Community Education brochure. Initial funding came from grants from local foundations and organizations, and in the years since, the band has primarily sustained itself with three revenue sources: member dues, donations, and performance ticket sales.
In the early years, there was little money available to purchase music, but many school and community band directors were generous in loaning music. Since the late 1980’s the band has progressively grown its library thanks to purchases and loans. Our band now plays from a library of over 800 pieces.
By the mid-1990’s, the band had grown significantly. At this time gained its nonprofit status and changed their name from “Community” to “Concert” band. With the ensemble now numbering near 60, the band grew out of the gym at Matthews Center that it had played at for 15 years, and moved into the band room at Seward Elementary, and then onto Ann Sullivan Elementary. These changes helped the band to grow musically, to attract quality musicians, and to enlarge our audience base.
The Seward Concert Band has always been a non-audition group, welcoming musicians from all walks of life. When we are not playing music, we are working (or retired) teachers, computer geeks, nurses, students, doctors, lawyers, stay at home moms and dads, molecular biologists, mothers, fathers, or not. We range in age from early college to “you shouldn’t ask!”
Small mixed ensembles of band members also perform at various community events such as at the Twin Cities Marathon, local fairs, building and bridge openings and weddings. Saxophone and brass ensembles also meet and perform regularly. Individual members also take part in orchestras for local theatrical events.
The Seward Concert Band plays 2-3 concerts per year in South Minneapolis, and plays additional concerts around the region. In addition to formal performances, the band typically plays each year at the Twin Cities Marathon, and at the Memorial Day ceremony at Soldiers & Pioneers Cemetery, and at one of Minneapolis’ parks.
In June of 2001, 35 members of the band traveled to Europe and played concerts in Germany and the Czech Republic. Two works have been commissioned and/or written for the Seward Concert Band. One by Dominick Argento and the second by PhD Candidate, Shirley Hamilton.
The Seward Concert Band has been grateful for the leadership of our conductors over the years. Since 2009, our conductors have been Ph.D. Candidates in the Music Education and Band or Orchestra Direction from the University of Minnesota. These candidates have brought our band new talent, while helping us live our mission of providing music education.
- Kathy White: 1977–1980
- Tim Matthaei: 1980–1984
- Neil Okerlund: 1984–1986
- Chuck Boody: 1986–2006
- Dennis Malmberg: 2006–2009
- Foster Beyers: 2009–2010
- Christina Chen-Beyers: 2010–2012
- John Stewart: 2012–2013
- David Berberick: 2013–2014
- David Rolandson: 2014–2015
- David Sanderson: 2015–2017
- Cassandra Bechard: 2017-2019
- Christopher Gough: 2019-2021
- Cassandra Bechard: 2021-Present