The Lake Country Brass Quintet

In The News

Music fills lakes as quintet floats by
July 22, 1999  By Stephanie Fisher, Staff writer - Oconomowoc Focus

Area music lovers looking for something to do on a Wednesday evening might consider wandering down to a nearby lake.

With a little luck, the brassy sounds of French horn, trumpet, trombone and tuba might drift by.

The Sterling & Brass Quintet, composed of five area musicians, has taken to rehearsing in pontoon boats afloat area lakes.

"We really take people by surprise. You don't expect a band to go pottering by," said trumpet player Chuck Kuhtz.

Complete with instruments, music stands and even a few wives, the group tries to visit a lake weekly to rehearse everything from show tunes to Glenn Miller.

"We just pack everything up as if we're in someone's living room," said Wayne Fraederich, who played the French horn since childhood.

The quintet rehearses for a variety of events, including weddings and community concerts.

Last weekend, it played at a craft fair at St. John's Northwestern Military Academy. On Aug. 3, the quintet is set to play a concert at Nixon Park.

The members met while playing with the Hartland Community Band. Although the group has been together for a couple of years, the idea for the water stint didn't come about until last summer.

"We originally got together because we had a lot of fun playing," said Kuhtz, "but late in the season last year, we went out on my boat on Okauchee and had a blast. People were trailing us and coming out to listen," he added.

Along with Kuhtz and Fraederich, the quintet includes trumpet player Todd Wenzel, trombonist Jack Schulze and tuba player Stan Laasch.

The quintet tries to select a different lake each week, with friends supplying the boats.

Although Fraederich said that playing on a boat is not any more difficult than playing on land, although the weather has proven to be an occasional obstacle.

"I think we basically sound the same, but there is always a chance a music stand will fall down because of the wind," said Kuhtz who added that the last two excursions have been met with especially high winds.

This week, the group heads out to Lac La Belle.

"Playing is fun, but playing on the lakes is a chance to have more fun," said Fraederich.

"People might be standing out on their docks or fishing, and once in a while after we finish, we'll hear an 'all right.' That's always nice to hear," he added.

Although the quintet's repertoire includes a range of classical music, the group usually sticks to lighter stuff while on the lake.

"We usually like to play songs that everybody knows," said Fraederich, but having a little fun does not diminish the musician's hard work. Kuhtz said the members take the quintet very seriously. 

"It's harder to play in a quintet than a large group. If one isn't there or has to take a break, there's a hole in the music. You really can't take those liberties," he added.


SUMMER SERENADE - The Sterling & Brass Quintet practices on Lake Nagawicka on Wednesday, July 14. The band rehearses on area lakes during the summer months. Members are Wayne Fraederich, Jack Schulze, Todd Wenzel, Stan Laasch and Chuck Kuhtz. Here, Bill Chandler fills in for Schulze. (Staff photo by Mike Schirmer)

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