Dr. Glen E. Newton, Roseville Big Band
Director and Historian
June 30, 2007; updated January 3, 2016
The Roseville Big Band builds upon a wealth of traditions, some stretching back to its inception in 1965. The band has evolved under the leadership of five directors over the course of its history, developing new traditions and sometimes discarding old ones. The traditions described here have lasted through the years and help define the Roseville Big Band.
|TWENTIETH CENTURY TRADITIONS|
|Sponsorship by Roseville Parks and Recreation Department|
|Concerts in Roseville’s Central Park|
|Commemorative Air Force Hangar Dances|
|Community Television Broadcasts of Performances|
|Nursing Home Concerts|
|Support for Civic Events|
|Variety of Music|
|Encouraging New Compositions|
|Encouraging New Arrangements|
|Joint Rehearsals and Concerts|
|Carleton College Mid-Winter Dance|
|Swing Dance Exhibition Dancers|
|Variety of Audiences|
|TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY TRADITIONS|
|Children’s Hospital Association Annual Balls|
|Como Park Concerts|
Bob Lancette recognized that although instrumental music is an important part of the big band tradition, songs that have well-known lyrics connect with the audience better if there is a vocalist. On Independence Day 1984, Kathy Olsen, the sister of the Roseville Community Band’s principal clarinetist Bob Olsen, became the band’s first vocalist, singing “South of the Border” (“ai-yi-yi-yi”) with the Roseville Big Band. The band’s first male vocalist was Glen Newton, who stepped forward from the trumpet section to sing “Minnie the Moocher” at several Commemorative Air Force dances. The vocal soloist tradition gained momentum in 1990, when Mary Lou (Christianson) Peterman became the band’s first long-term vocalist. It started when the band was playing for the spring hangar dance and one of the colonels in the Confederate Air Force approached director Glen Newton to inquire, “My niece has sung professionally in Hawaii; could she sing something with the band?” Mary Lou sang “When the Saints Go Marching In” with us and became a regular performer on our concerts.
We also met tenor Kirk Lindberg (who built his own airplane and keeps it in a hangar at Fleming Field) through the Confederate Air Force dances. More than three dozen other vocalists-from new high school grads to seasoned performers-have performed as guest artists with the band.
Concerts and dances entertain thousands of people in the live audience, as we always do on July 4th in Central Park and as we have often done at the hangar dances. These musical events can entertain even more people when they are televised.
Since 1984, community television volunteers in Roseville have videotaped Roseville Big Band concerts for replay on the public access channels of cable television. Today, these concerts are carried on channel 15 in ten cities in the northern suburbs of St. Paul:
|Arden Hills||Falcon Heights|
|Mounds View||New Brighton|
|St. Anthony||Shoreview ( In 2014 Shoreview dropped out of the consortium.)|
Furthermore, because of the “Universal Cable” agreement between the North Suburban Cable Commission and the cable provider, even households that do not subscribe to commercial cable stations can receive these broadcasts free. All Roseville Big Band concerts in Central Park are videotaped for multiple later replays on cable television. In addition, with the installation of a live television feed from Central Park in 1992, live broadcasts from Central Park have let shut-in audiences see the Roseville Big Band concerts as they are happening. Starting in 2015, some Roseville Big Band concerts have been streamed live on the Internet from the CTV15 broadcast facilities.
Volunteer community access producer John Rusterholz has been producing videos of Roseville Big Band performances since 1992 and works closely with band director Glen Newton to coordinate the song identification, camera shots, and soloist identification with the music. Other live television broadcasts of Roseville Big Band performances have included dances at Roseville Area High School and concerts at Concordia Academy. Community television crew have also videorecorded and broadcast the band’s performances at various other locations for broadcast in the Twin Cities:
|St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Roseville||Edina’s Edinborough Park|
|Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights||Blaine’s Town Square Park|
|The Minnesota History Center in St. Paul||Como Park in St. Paul|
|Eagan Central Park|
|Salo Park in St. Anthony||St. Anthony Community Center|
Through concerts at nursing homes, we bring music to those who would have a difficult time getting out to concerts and who are of the age that they would especially appreciate this musical style. Nursing homes we have played for include the following:
|Lyngblomsten Nursing Home||Rosewood Estates|
|Eagle Crest Senior Living Community||Woodbury Care Center|
|Rosepoint Senior Living|
|Inver Grove Good Samaritan Nursing Home||Wilder Residence|
|Little Sisters of the Poor, Holy Family Residence, in St. Paul||Augustana Chapel View|
|Sholom Home East in St. Paul||Beacon Hill Retirement Community in Minnetonka|
The last two in this list have become traditions in themselves. The parents of Bob Nielsen, the band’s 4th trumpet player, live in Beacon Hill Retirement Community, and since 2004 we have played a concert there for an afternoon ice cream social each June. We also have played an annual concert at Sholom Home East since 2005. Part of the enjoyment in playing nursing home concerts comes from talking with audience members before and after the performances. We even found several former big band era musicians among the residents, including a resident of Sholom Home East who was the organ accompanist for the famous Andrews Sisters on tour.
The Roseville Big Band has furnished the music for numerous charitable fundraising dinners and dances. These fundraisers include benefits for the following organizations:
|Roseville Schools music programs||Roseville Area Arts Council|
|Ronald McDonald House||Lyngblomsten Foundation|
|Minnesota FoodShare||St. Paul Children’s Hospital Association|
|Courage Center||The Commemorative Air Force Tuskegee Project|
|Inver Grove Heights schools music program||The Lupus Foundation|
In addition to playing three concerts in Central Park each summer, the band continues to provide entertainment for special occasions in Roseville, including these events:
|Opening of the John Rose Oval, December 19, 1993||Opening of the Twin Lakes Medical Center, October 30, 1994|
|City of Roseville open house, October 9, 1999||Central Park Foundation 40th Anniversary Celebration, July 2, 2004|
|Tribute to Frank Rog, June 7, 2009||Roseville Community Showcase, June 27, 2010|
|Family Night Out, August 6, 2012||Flying Colors Community Festival, August 9, 2012|
In 1991, Glen Newton began the tradition of incorporating guest soloists into the band’s summer concerts in the park. Focusing on recent graduates from Roseville Area High School (RAHS), the intent was to reinforce the message, “There are musically fulfilling opportunities after high school, even if you aren’t a full-time professional musician.” The first guest soloists were 1991 RAHS graduates—Mike Lushine on trombone playing “Tall Cotton” and vocalist Rob Kleinendorst singing “It Had to Be You” and leading the RAHS Doo-Wop group, who performed several a capella selections on the program. Between 1991 and 2006, 37 recent RAHS graduates have been featured with the Roseville Big Band, some on more than one performance.
The tradition continued in the summer of 2006, with three 2006 high school graduates featured-trombonist Greg Albing (RAHS), alto saxophonist Andy Galkiewicz (RAHS), and vocalist Dani Maresh (Champlin Park High School). Other guest soloists have included RAHS music faculty members, Roseville Community Band director Dan Kuch, and other talented adult vocalists and instrumentalists from the Twin Cities. With a similar goal of demonstrating the joy of adult amateur big band playing to students, we also played for three middle school jazz festivals in the Anoka school district. “Musically fulfilling opportunities after Roseville high school” are exemplified by two of the full-time members of the Roseville Big Band. Nick Johnson, guitarist, is a 1999 RAHS graduate, and Rich Eyman, trombonist, graduated from Ramsey High School before Ramsey and Kellogg combined to form RAHS.
Vocal soloists often perform with big bands, but vocal duets and larger ensembles are much less common. The Roseville Big Band’s vocal ensembles are one of its distinguishing characteristics. Shortly after Mary Lou Peterman joined the Roseville Big Band as a solo vocalist, director Glen Newton began harmonizing with her. After Kirk Lindberg joined the band as a tenor soloist, he learned Glen’s harmony to “Moon River.” Glen then created a third part for himself and the band had a vocal trio. An early vocal quartet consisted of Mary Lou, Glen, alto Julie Linders, and guest baritone sax soloist and tenor vocalist Tom Reitan, singing “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” in a 1992 concert at Centennial Lakes park. On another occasion, lead trombonist Carol Jensen joined Mary Lou, Glen, and Kirk to harmonize on “Sentimental Journey” at a Confederate Air Force dance. In 1994, Diane Lindberg joined Mary Lou, Glen, and husband Kirk for four-part vocals as The Rosetones, and the band’s repertoire of vocal quartets began to grow. When Mary Lou left in 1996, Karen Dunn joined the band, both as a solo vocalist and lead singer of the Rosetones vocal quartet. The Rosetones performed regularly with the band until 2004 and still sing with the band several times each year. Karen continues as our featured vocal soloist, and she and Glen sing duets at nearly every performance.
The Roseville Big Band and the River City Jazz Orchestra (formerly the Inver Hills Jazz Band) have held annual joint rehearsals since 1993. Originally, a few band members were apprehensive because they thought of it as a competition, but they learned it was fun to get to know some other adult big band musicians and hear their repertoire, and nobody cared who played better. The two bands have also performed joint concerts:
|•||A concert at Monroe School in 2000|
|•||A “battle of the bands,” billed as “Stompin’ at the Simley,” at Simley High School in 2003|
|•||A March 20, 2007, concert at the Gallagher-Hansen Post 295 VFW Hall in South St. Paul|
The River City Jazz Orchestra is a convenient group to pair up with, because our rehearsals are on the same night of the week, Tuesday. In 2007, we tried a joint rehearsal with South Side Big Band on a Monday, and most band members were able to attend. That, too, was an enjoyable collaboration. Our joint performances with other jazz bands include the January 28, 2003, concert with the Nova Big Band at O’Gara’s in St. Paul, as well as the middle school jazz festivals in Anoka.
For dances, we use only the standard big band instrumentation. There, the rarest instruments you'll see are the flugelhorns, played by all of our trumpet players, and soprano sax, played by several of our saxophonists.
During concerts, we try to expand our audiences' concepts of big band instrumentation by incorporating instruments not often featured on solos in modern big bands. Of course, "unusual" is in the mind of the beholder, but here are some solo instruments featured with the band:
|Harmonica||Bass clarinet||BB-flat contrabass clarinet||Bass saxophone|
|Piccolo trumpet||Cornet||Alto horn||Tenor horn|
|Soprano trombone||Alto trombone||Euphonium||Tuba|
Paradoxically, one of our traditions is to include new performance venues in each year’s schedule, in addition to the traditional ones, to acquaint new audiences with our music. For example, we recently performed for the first time for these events:
|•||Annual Hasbro GI Joe Collector's Association Event (June 2005)|
|•||Children’s Surgery International Dance: Passport to Smiles (April 2006)|
|•||Concert at Town Square Park in Blaine – their first year of concerts in the park (August 2006)|
|•||Fall Festival at St. Mary of the Lake in White Bear Lake (September 2006)|
This fall we will perform for two more new audiences:
|•||Salo Park Amphitheater in St. Anthony (August 2007)|
|•||Annual gathering of the 93rd Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force (September 2007)|
Glen Newton launched at Roseville Big Band web site at www.rosevillebigband.org in January 2000. Over 65,000 Internet users have visited the site since then. It now gets about 260 visitors per day from throughout the world.
The Roseville Big Band has played for the St. Paul Children’s Hospital Association annual balls since 2002. This is one of the newest parts of our long-standing tradition of playing for charitable fundraisers, described above.
The Roseville Big Band performed at the Como Park Lakeside Pavilion, on the west shore of Como Lake in St. Paul, occasionally in the 20th Century. Since 2004, we have played an annual concert there in May, one of the first on the park’s summer concert schedule.
Each of these traditions helps define the Roseville Big Band in a way that
transcends a statement of purpose or a single rehearsal or performance. Taken
together, these traditions show that today’s Roseville Big Band puts an
emphasis on entertainment and public service.
The band’s traditions of including vocalists, exhibition dancers, uncommon instruments, and guest soloists in the band’s performances demonstrate our emphasis on entertainment. Our traditions of featuring a wide variety of music, including new compositions and arrangements enhance this entertainment focus.
Our charitable fundraisers, nursing home concerts, performances for civic events, provision for sit-in nights, and performances at a variety of public venues demonstrate the band’s emphasis on public service. Another public service contribution is the close collaboration with CTV15, whose volunteers bring the Roseville Big Band concerts, both live and in replay, to thousands of viewers who would not otherwise be able to see and hear the band.