MANITOWOC, Wis. (WFRV) – You probably haven’t seen this: A director of a community band veers from the printed program to play an elaborate trumpet solo to celebrate his 20 years with the band and with his wife, who is present in the clarinet section, with images of the couple projected on a screen, including from their wedding day.
That happened Sunday afternoon in the “Movie Night” concert of Lakeshore Wind Ensemble and Lakeshore Big Band at Capitol Civic Centre.
Assistant director Chris Woller was given the opportunity to conduct and prepare the concert, and he seized the opportunity to play the slow, embracing “At Last” to the audience and for his wife, Kristy, who was seated at the front of the stage. The tune was specially arranged for Chris Woller by Paul Sucherman, director of the bands.
Tickets were sold to the concert, but, still, you can’t buy that stuff.
The concert took place in the midst of COVID-19 challenges. Masks were required of the audience. The musicians wore masks, even though most play wind instruments. Bells on such instruments as trumpets and trombones were covered. Chris Woller introduced numbers – often playfully – while wearing a mask. Only vocalist Rachel Ziolkowski was maskless.
While billed as “Movie Night,” the concert was a matinee to be a family concert. By invitation to do so, many children in the audience dressed in pajamas – often the kiddie kid of characters from animated movies. Chris Woller’s introductions captured the playfulness, especially his recounting of some way-out plots, like from “Back to the Future.”
The band’s performance, a bit cautious at first, built up that atmosphere – movie music being laced with adrenaline.
Adding to the aura were scenes or images from movies that were projected behind the musicians. This was a specially prepared concert. A recording of it may be seen via lakeshorewindensemble.org.
To close, here is another distinctive moment, prompted by the presence of a banjo. That instrument piqued interest right away. It was placed stage front, next to where the lead clarinetist/“concertmaster” sits. This is a wind ensemble concert – no strings. The banjo raises this thought: “Hmmm, what’s that about?” The 50-member ensemble plays larger numbers. Most players are dressed in concert black. Players in the Lakeshore Big Band, many of whom are embedded in the ensemble, wear white. So, for “Tiger Rag,” there’s another division as a half dozen or so players become a Dixieland band with the clarinetist picking up the banjo to join in a rousing, rhythmic, rambunctious run through the New Orleans classic.
Impression of the afternoon from the band: “COVID? Pfft, we’re going to enjoy ourselves.”
Conductor: Chris Woller, Lakeshore Wind Ensemble assistant director and music director
+ Selections from “The Greatest Showman” – “The Greatest Show,” “A Million Dreams,” “Never Enough,’ “This Is Me,” “From Now On”
+ “Into the Unknown” from “Frozen II”
+ “Night Train” (Lakeshore Big Band)
+ “At Last” as a trumpet solo by Chris Woller
+ “Catchy Song” from “Lego Movie 2: The Second Part”
+ “Alan Silvestri: A Night at the Movies” with selections from “The Avengers,” “The Polar Express,” “Night at the Museum,” “Forrest Gump,” “Back to the Future”
+ “Peter Gunn” from the TV show (Lakeshore Big Band)
+ “Tiger Rag,” including from “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” (Lakeshore Big Band and Dixieland group)
+ “Blues Brothers Revue” (Lakeshore Big Band)
+ “Suite from ‘Hamilton’” – “You’ll Be Back,” “Helpless,” “My Shot,” “Dear Theodosia,” “It’s Quiet Uptown,” “One Last Time”
+ “Megalovania” (Lakeshore Big Band) from video game
+ “Over the Rainbow” featuring vocalist Rachel Ziolkowski
+ Soundtrack highlights from “The Hunger Games” – “Tenuous Winners,” “Returning Home,” “Horn of Plenty”
+ “You’re Welcome” from “Moana”
+ “Put on a Happy Face” (Lakeshore Big Band) featuring vocalist Rachel Ziolkowski
+ Selection from “The Greatest Showman”
+ Encore: “My Shot” from “Hamilton”
Lakeshore Wind Ensemble personnel
Piccolo/flute – Brenda De Bruyn
Flute – Lisa Van Sickle, Madelyn Niessner, Stephanie Farr, Karrie Duffy, Kathy Kautzer
Oboe – Emily Shedal
Oboe/English horn – Mark Lyman
Eb/Bb clarinet – Renee Schmill
Bb clarinet – Dennis Kosloski, Suzanne Shimon, Mark Klaiber, Kristy Woller, Jill Schaus, Chris Bimel
Bass clarinet – Nicole Williams, Ginger Van Ells
Bassoon – Mark Vach
Alto saxophone – Sharon Wegner, Hannah McCollum, Phillip Curran
Tenor saxophone – Phil Stangel
Baritone saxophone – Emily Bailey
Trumpet – David Scherer, Amanda Malloy, Gudrun Wetak, Scott Retzak, Sammie Fidler, Matthew Pettrula
Horn – Curt Lemke, Carol Hermann, Karel Harcus
Trombone – John Zeldenrust, Dan Glaeser, Vernon Schnell, Karina Guzman, Nancy Leigh, Corey Van Sickle
Baritone/euphonium – Jim Garrington, Joel Ungemach
Tuba – Christopher Burton, Marley Hansen
Percussion – Kathleen Galas, Greg Knipp, Mike Johanek, Garrett Leigh, Glenn Niessner, Michelle Knox
Lakeshore Big Band personnel
Alto saxophone – Renee Schmill, Phillip Curran
Tenor saxophone – Phil Stangel, Jonnel Ramierez-Rivera
Baritone saxophone – Emily Bailey
Trumpet – David Scherer, Mike Johanek, Costner Kaminski, Gudrun Wetak, Sammie Fidler
Trombone – John Zeidenrust, Karina Guzman, Nancy Leigh, Joe Wetak
Electric bass – Jessica Otte
Set/percussion – Neil Plekan, Garrett Leigh
Piano – Sam Oswald
Vocalist – Rachel Ziolkowski
NEXT: “The Winds of March,” March 5.
THE VENUE: Renovation and upgrade projects of 2019 include new seating (with drink holders in the arms), technical upgrades and added public spaces. Located at 913 S. 8th St. in downtown Manitowoc, the 1,003-seat West Auditorium of Capitol Civic Centre features classically oriented styles befitting its 1921 origins as a combined vaudeville and movie palace. New lighting brightens the auditorium considerably. Two large, tiered, tear-drop clear crystal chandeliers grace shoulders on each side of the proscenium stage. All around is ornamentation – Corinthian capitals on faux columns, leaf-and-scroll braces beneath balcony and step-stage box seat areas, gold and red paint highlighting swirls and/or patterned geometric designs amid the cream-colored wall features. The ceiling is coffered. The fringe around the stage is ornate, with the stage curtain regal red with the Capitol Civic Center’s signature overlaid C’s standing out in the middle of the top hanging, which includes six tassels. Distinctive in the theater is the mezzanine, which is tucked far under the balcony and above the rear seats of the main floor. Also distinctive: Upper level signs say “OUT” instead of “EXIT.” The lobbies (the second level new in 2019) and meeting areas complement the rest of the theater in design. One area includes photo displays of stars and prominent personalities, including Charlton Heston and his wife, Two Rivers native, Lydia Clark Heston. The “Jewel on the Lakeshore” is home to 14 community arts, music and theater groups. Designed by local architect William J. Raueber and built by the local George Brothers, Arthur and John, the theater opened June 16, 1921, at Ascher Brothers’ Capitol Theatre under a lease agreement with the Chicago-based Ascher movie and vaudeville house operators. The current name dates to 1987, following restoration with the lead grant coming from the Ruth St. John and John Dunham West Foundation, Inc.
THE PEOPLE: John West was president of the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. The foundation that bears the Ruth and John West name supports and fosters the arts, with the Rahr-West Art Museum another significant site in Manitowoc.