Peninsula Symphonic Band  
Door County, Wisconsin  
our history John Stangel
The Door County Advocate carried the news in its December 7, 1990, edition: "PENINSULA SYMPHONIC BAND WILL PRESENT FIRST CONCERT." And so it did, to a rave review in the semi-weekly local newspaper. "Composed largely of adults in the community with a sprinkling of area students, the 42 member band directed by John Stangel lit up the Sturgeon Bay [TJ Walker] Middle School gym Monday night as it presented a neatly packaged and tightly wrapped performance to an appreciative audience," wrote the Advocate reporter Linda Adams. Stangel, head of the TJ Walker Middle School band, recalled that some folks had approached him a couple of years earlier about organizing a community band. It was not until he and Cheryl Kaster, Sevastopol School's music teacher, subsequently discussed the idea while they just happened to be attending the Peninsula Music Festival during the summer that the idea started to transform itself into a reality by the fall. Only seven people appeared for the first rehearsal, a little unsettling, but word of mouth served to swell the ranks into a substantial symphonic band by performance time. The December 7th Advocate listed musicians and their instruments for the initial concert as follows:
    Flute: Nancy Anderson, Jenny Carmody, Stacey Meneau, Peggy Toellner

    Oboe: Heather Blahnik, Cheryl Leist

    Bassoon: Joan Draeb, Angie Olson

    Clarinet: Heidi Blahnik, Carol DeVault, Sarah DeNamur, Cheryl Kaster, Kathy Krauss, Rosie Nesbitt, Marilyn Otto-VanDenBogart, Kate Rohrer, Roberta Geitner

    Alto Sax: Dawn Contratto, Nick Krauss, Diane Paterson, Janelle Peotter-Webber, Troy Reichard

    Tenor Sax: Nancy Herbst

    Baritone Sax: Martha Remington

    Trumpet: Andy Anderson, Kathryn Doar, Cheryl Graf, LeAnn Jarman, John Koehn

    Trombone: George Draeb, Andy Olson

    Baritone: Randy Huggett

    Tuba: Michael Bowlby, John Mueller, Bob Ray

    Percussion: David Bourgeois, Cheryl Hunt, Jim Jacobson, Dave Valentine

The second concert, held in May of 1991 at the band's de facto home, the Walker Middle School in Sturgeon Bay, offered a heady mix of music from marches (National Emblem March and The Stars and Stripes Forever) to Broadway show tunes (The Music Man and Phantom of the Opera) to compositions by the classical music world's heavyweights in the persons of Handel and Holst—George Frideric Handel and Gustav Holst. The Handel number, Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound, of course, featured the trumpet section. Holst's Second Suite in F (for Military Band) allowed solo clarinetist Kathy Krauss and baritonists Randy "Huggy" Huggett and John Mann, now with the band, to shine. Also delighting all was a xylophone solo by percusssionist David Bourgeois in The Comedian's Galop, by Dmitri Kabalevsky. At this point, the Peninsula Symphonic Band's personnel consisted of the following dedicated local musicians:
    Flute: Nancy Anderson, Nan Anschutz, Margie Biel, Patrice Champeau, Christine Gagliano, Stacey Meneau, Clare Miller, Lisa VanLaanen, Mary White

    Oboe: Heather Blahnik

    Bassoon: Joan Draeb

    Clarinet: Heidi Blahnik, Carol DeVault, Cheryl Kaster, Kathy Krauss, Terry Leisel, Rosie Nesbitt, Marilyn Otto-VanDenBogart

    Alto Sax: Mary Kollberg, Nick Krauss, Diane Paterson

    Tenor Sax: Nancy Herbst

    French Horn: Paula Eggert, Wade Kollberg

    Trumpet: Andy Anderson, Kathryn Doar, Cheryl Graf, LeAnn Jarman, John Koehn

    Trombone: George Draeb, Roger Lent, Andy Olson, Ken Rock

    Baritone: Randy "Huggy" Huggett, John Mann

    Bass Trombone: Paul Klapatch

    Tuba: John Mueller, Bob Ray

    Percussion: David Bourgeois, Andrew Ebel, Cheryl Hunt, Jim Jacobson, Geoffrey Pinney, Dave Valentine

May, 1991

By early summer, members of the Peninsula Symphonic Band numbered 50 and included all or parts of two already existing performing groups, the Door County Trombone Quartet and the Door County Swing Band. That year's June Jubilee in Sunset Park had among its festivities the Irish Step Dancers under the direction of Jackie Green, performing in the tennis courts at noon, followed by a Peninsula Symphonic Band concert near the boat launch. The successful first season drew to a close with an early evening concert in the Sister Bay Village Park.

The second season, beginning in the fall of 1991, found the Peninsula Symphonic Band playing in Ephraim and then subsequently sponsoring, most fittingly, the second annual John Philip Sousa Golf Open at Cherry Hills, proceeds of which went to benefit the band.
back at work (see above for "at play")

The year concluded with three holiday season concerts in December, first at the Dorchester Nursing Home in Sturgeon Bay, then at the Walker Middle School, and finally, right before Christmas, at the Gibraltar Auditorium.

The calendar year 1992 is a bit like a cosmic black hole in Peninsula Symphonic Band history. The historical record, contained in the official scrapbook, emits no light with respect to the band's activities for that year. It remains for a future historian to probe The Door County Advocate's microfilm files and enlighten us.

Nineteen-ninety-three proved to be a busy year for the band. February 14th, Valentine's Day, found the Peninsula Symphonic Band and director John Stangel performing jointly with the Algoma Community Band under their director Jeff Rosendahl on the stage of the Door Community Auditorium in Fish Creek. Each band played several numbers separately and then combined for Mozart's overture to The Marriage of Figaro as well as Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever and a contemporary offering, "Under the Sea," from the recently released Disney movie The Little Mermaid. The Raibrook Foundation, a local philanthropic body supporting non-profit community-involved groups in the Door County area, underwrote the performance, which was free to the public.

During that busy year, June 12th ended up being the busiest day of all. It started with a performance, officially a "Musical Prelude," as part of the christening and launching of the MCM-14 Chief, a Mine Countermeasure Ship, built for the United States Navy in Sturgeon Bay by PBI.



That very same day, the band headed for the northern reaches of the peninsula to catch the ferry over to Washington Island.

a little water music

On the island, they played an afternoon concert at the Jacqueline Cornell Foss Memorial Outdoor Stage, a part of the Island's Community Center, sponsored by the Island's Women's Club. Proceeds from the benefit concert were used by the Women's Club to help various projects they sponsor, such as the Island Preschool, Medical Fund, Girl Scouts, and their annual Post-Secondary School Scholarship.

The following day, Sunday, June 13th, the band gave a "Musical Salute to Health Care" on the lawn of the Door County Memorial Hospital in Sturgeon Bay, a tribute to the hospital's fifty years of health services for the residents of and visitors to Door County. In addition to the Peninsula Symphonic Band as a whole, its two smaller combo groups entertained with polkas, waltzes, and big-band favorites.

That year's Christmas concert, performed at Sturgeon Bay's United Methodist Church, included selections from Handel's Messiah as well as Mannheim Steamroller's medley titled Traditions of Christmas, Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride, and a work playfully called "Santa Meets Sousa."

The year 1994 began with the Madison Brass Quintet coming to Door County in February and performing for Sevastopol School's K-8 on Monday morning, the 21st, then playing at Southern Door High School's Auditorium for students from Southern Door, Sturgeon Bay, and Gibraltar. Expenses for the appearance of the Madison Bass were covered by a generous donation from the Raibrook Foundation. That evening the Peninsula Symphonic Band joined the Madison Brass for a concert at that same venue in Southern Door. Also featured at that performace was Door County's own, "The Door County 5" Brass Quintet, whose members varied somewhat over the years but consisted at this time of John Koehn, John Quigley, Paula Eggert, John Mann, and Bob Ray.

John Koehn

John Quigley
Paula Eggert

John Mann

Bob Ray

The Advocate, in a short piece on the Peninsula Symphonic Band, reported an upcoming concert titled “Spring Fling,” to be performed at the Southern Door Auditorium on May 22nd, and another Sousa golfing event, this one called the John Philip Sousa Benefit Golf Outing, to be played at Lost Creek on July 9th. The band, it was noted, would be going on the road August 6th and 7th for a summer tour to the central part of the state. Reiterated was the standing open invitation to join the band as a performer or, in lieu of that, as a member of Friends of the Peninsula Symphonic Band, those who contrbute money to offset the cost of music and of renting performance halls and equipment.

A few days before teeing up the golf balls, the band performed at the Birch Creek Music Center, on July 3rd, just prior to Egg Harbor's evening fireworks display. The program consisted of “patriotic and inspirational music.”

in the barn at Birch Creek

This same year, 1994, witnessed the first major shift in the band's personnel. John Stangel, conductor and one of the two founder-organizers (Cheryl Kaster being the other), made a career move that took him out of Door County. He was leaving his post as band director at Sturgeon Bay High School to accept a similar position elsewhere. John Quigley, band director at Gibraltar High School and prominent member of the Peninsula Symphonic Band as well as The Door County 5, accepted the baton from John Stangel and stepped up onto the podium of the Peninsula Symphonic Band.

John Stangel & John Quigley

The official scrapbook is mum about gigs and goings-on of the band for the remainder of that year and all of the next, though certainly performances took place. Once more, the Advocate and a diligent historian will have to fill in the specifics at a later date. The scrapbook picks up the narrative again in 1996 with pictures of a parade through Jacksonport and the band riding a hay wagon. The Peninsula Symphonic Band never was (and probably never will be) a "marching band," though it was in its own way mobile.

Jacksonport parade, 1996

The year ended, as the band's very first calendar year had ended back in 1990, with a Christmas concert. This time the concert served as a benefit for the Door County Humane Society.

Door County Humane Society holiday benefit concert

John Quigley

to be continued . . .

The 2008 spring-summer season concluded with a 4th-of-July concert:

newspaper announcement, 2008