More than musical notes connected 54 St. Cloud Municipal Band members, family and friends during a 10-day trip to Europe last week.
The band played three concerts, starting in St. Cloud’s sister city of Spalt, Germany.
The trip continued through Lichtenstein and Austria to Zermatt, Switzerland, and then north to Colmar, France, before a stop in Ulm, Germany, on the way to Munich and the flight home.
This was the band’s third visit to Spalt that started after a 2008 visit to St. Cloud from a Spalt delegation. The first trip was in 2010 followed by a second visit in 2014. The Spalt band, Stadtkapelle Spalt, visited St. Cloud in 2012 and 2016.
I joined the band about a year ago so this was my first trip but many of the musicians traveled on the earlier trips.
As we rode through central Europe, I learned the trips promoted more than music but also family relationships and foreign friendships.
Two of my fellow saxophone section friends, Bob Bach and Royce Nies, are trip veterans.
Joining Bach on this trip were his son Brady and daughter Casey. Flute player Casey, 25, of Sartell, was on her first trip.
“I like that we stop at different places. The concerts are fun too. Zermatt was pretty cool. I would never think of going there,” Casey said.
Brady, 32, who now lives in Rochester, was on his third trip with the band. Rounding out the Bach family delegation was Brady’s wife, Corrie, who worked with my wife at St. Cloud State before Corrie attended medical school.
Tenor sax player Nies and his wife, Bonnie, of Sartell, were on their third trip. While we were in France, Royce and Bonnie connected with a couple from France. Andre was a classmate of Bonnie and Royce at St. Boniface High School in Cold Spring and the two couples have kept the relationship going. The French couple stayed with Royce and Bonnie when they returned for the St. Boniface 50th high school class reunion.
When we were in Germany, Bonnie and Royce also stayed with a couple from Spalt.
“That relationship goes back about 10 years when they first came to St. Cloud to start this sister city thing. We’ve stayed at their house twice and they’ve stayed at our home in Sartell twice,” Royce said.
“They came with the delegation from Spalt and I have an extra tenor and an extra alto. They just brought their mouthpieces and they played with us on the Fourth of July,” Royce said.
“The band trips have given us a great opportunity not only to see other parts of the country but to get to know other band members and spouses,” Bonnie said. “St. Cloud Municipal Band is like our family.”
For Mel and Marianne Hauck, the first Spalt trip in 2010 was all about family. For the couple’s 50th anniversary celebration, 13 Haucks made the trip. Seven family members played in the band.
New family memories where made this year for tenor horn player Tammy Krogstad of St. Cloud and her dad, Gordon Noggle of Rice. Tammy played a difficult solo and her dad, who has had recent health issues, was able to join the group to proudly see his daughter shine.
Family members as well as band members have made unique connections because of the trips. St. Joseph Township resident and French horn player Janet Haviland and her husband, Jeff, own a business that manufactures dairy processing equipment. While Janet was playing on the trip four years ago, the Spalter Beer brewmaster showed Jeff the brewery.
“He gave me a private tour throughout the brewery, which is my industry. We had a good old time,” Jeff said. “We’ve made some lasting friendships.”
During the trip I renewed a few of my old connections too.
I first met Royce and Bonnie 30 years ago when I photographed unique Christmas decorations at their Sartell home.
Flute player and band business manager Joe Fox of Cold Spring joined the band in 1972, right out of high school. Joe and I played in the Technical High School band directed by Marv Pearson…who was Mel Hauck’s office mate at South Junior High School.
The band is a tradition for the Fox family. Joe’s dad Bill joined the Municipal Band in 1938 and played until his death in 1990. Joe’s brother Terry played trumpet in the band from 1991 until he died in 2007.
In high school, Joe and I went on a double date with two girls a year younger than us. Turns out we both married our dates. Joe and Chris and Marian and I are still married and we shared our story with others on the trip.
For Marian and me, that lasting relationship started with the man who married us in 1977, District Court Judge Roger Klaphake, who plays baritone sax and made the trip with his wife Carol.