It’s my grandfather’s fault. No not really. But Emil Newman, my grandfather, had a huge influence on me becoming a tuba player. He had his own old time dance band where he played bass horn. His other musicians played trumpet, clarinet, tenor saxophone, accordion, concertina, drums (Mom), and piano. Watching him and his band members have so much fun while creating enjoyment for so many inspired me to follow in his foot steps albeit in a different manner. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to come from a family of musicians steeped in old time folk standards. My mother played drums and accordion. My father a violinist. Both self-taught.
I began playing tuba in Junior high when I was considered old enough and strong enough to carry the instrument. I exceled in my playing through my high school years in Galesville, Wisconsin. It was during that time I was encouraged by my band director to try out and join the La Crosse Youth Symphony. I played with them for three years under the direction of Frank Italiano. During the early 70’s I had the opportunity to experience a five-week summer symphonic camp with orchestra professionals joining us in every instrument section. Music came alive as we rehearsed, toured, and performed in the south and central parts of Wisconsin. I also received music scholarships to two summer band camps during high school. In one of those camps, I was challenged with everyone else to play and perform works by composer Vaclav Nelhybel who also conducted us; a definite music rush.
I went to Dana College in Blair, Nebraska where I received my B.A. in music performance. From there I moved to the Twin Cities. I was a member of the Seward community band in Minneapolis for 25 years beginning in 1979. I belonged to the Northlakes Brass Quintet for five years in the late 90’s. I joined the 3M Club Symphony Orchestra in 1992 and have been a member ever since. With the forming of East Metro Symphony Orchestra as a not-for-profit entity in 2008, I have watched the organization slowly increase in membership, able to tackle more difficult musical works, and become a recognized ensemble performing in St. Paul and its eastern ring of suburbs. I am glad to be a part of the EMSO organization and thankful for the years 3M directly funded the precursor to EMSO.
I play one of the first St. Peterburg’s tubas sold in America from the late 90’s. By chance I introduced Ross Tolbert, tubist of the Minnesota Orchestra, to the instrument. He was most impressed by its sound and playability. Mr. Tolbert became an advocate for the instrument in the American market. I also own and play my grandfather’s high end 1939 Conn Sousaphone which he used in his dance band. Not only is the tuba in great shape, it reminds me of warm memories from years past. It inspires me to play great music in the present.
I am a 32-year retiree head custodian engineer of the St. Paul School district. I am an avid player in the sport of curling. During the covid shut down I completed my Masters of Divinity degree on line. I am now an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church LCMC synod. My wife Terry Wilson, bassoonist, and I live in rural Wisconsin where we have cats, a robust vegetable garden, a confused resident wild turkey, and laying hens.