The History of the Peninsula Symphonic Band

In 1990, John Stangel was working as the music director for Sturgeon Bay’s T.J. Walker Middle School band when he was approached by a few community members who suggested that what the community needed was a community band. Later that summer, he and Cheryl Kaster, Sevastopol School’s music teacher, started the process of forming what would soon be known as the Peninsula Symphonic Band. Only seven people attended the first rehearsal which was a little unsettling. However, word got around and the ranks grew into a solid symphonic band by performance time that Fall.

By the next year, the band numbered 50 musicians from around the county and included all or parts of two already existing performing groups: the Door County Trombone Quartet and the Door County Swing Band. Concerts were performed throughout the county and varied greatly in the programming and venues. Over a few years, the band played benefit concerts, marked commemoration ceremonies, helped raise funds for non-profit organizations and even helped to christen and launch a ship.

Interest and support for the band grew and soon the Friends of the Peninsula Symphonic Band was formed for the purpose of supporting the band with fundraising to offset the cost of music, performance venues and equipment rentals. After 4 years of directing the band, Stangel stepped down and passed the baton to John Quigley, band director at Gibraltar High School. John had been a long time member of the Peninsula
Symphonic Band as well as the Door County 5. The band continued to raise the bar musically, performing 6 concerts a year and helping to raise awareness and support for many of the area’s non-profit organizations through benefit concerts.

Quigley’s directorship of the band ended in 2000 with his handing the baton off to Paula Eggert, a founding member of the band. Paula believed that the band should be a “voice” for the community. To recognize and celebrate the heroism and sacrifices of our armed forces, Paula scheduled the band’s first Veteran’s Day Concert for November 11, 2001, just 2 months after the tragic events of 9-11. Paula started the 4th of July Celebration Concerts and shared each free will offering with local non-profit organizations. Paula served as the director for 18 years, becoming the longest serving director.

In 2018, Paula handed the baton to a new director, Jason Palmer. Palmer has a long musical resume including more than 40 years as a church musician. Jason and his wife Jamie founded the Fox Valley Academy of Music Performance in Aurora, IL where Jamie served as Executive Director and Jason conducted the high school and adult orchestras.

Palmer’s vision for the PSB is to continue to raise the bar musically, increase the size and scope of the ensemble and be fully integrated into the cultural fabric of Door County.

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