Cedarburg Civic Band in the news

Musical traditions continued in this summer’s first show

By Tom Flaherty of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel staff

June 23, 1999

Cedarburg — For more than 100 years, the Cedarburg Civic Band’s serenades have been as much a part of Cedarburg summers as soft evening breezes from Lake Michigan. Maybe there has been at least one Boerger in the band all that time. Or maybe it just seems like it. Bill Boerger started playing the French horn in the band’s concerts more than 30 years ago.

“In the parades, he often played the big drum,” said Bev Boerger, Bill’s widow. “That was because he could wave to all of his friends.”

Bill’s gone now. He died about two years ago, but a family tradition played on Sunday night when the Cedarburg Civic Band played its first concert of the summer with a special Father’s Day program. Bill Jr. lives in Germantown now, but drives over to play the trombone. Another son, Bob, lives in Random Lake, but he still drives down with his tuba for concerts and his trumpet for parades. A daughter, Beth Thierfelder, played the flute for several years, and now coordinates the color guard. Beth’s daughters Kim and Kelly are in the color guard.

“I’ve moved a couple of times,” said Bob, who was 11 years old when he joined the band 27 years ago. “I was raised in Cedarburg, then I lived in Fond du Lac and Sheboygan. Now I’m in Random Lake, but I still participate. I enjoy the music end of it, the challenge. You work your whole life to develop your music skills. You want to use them and not just leave your instrument in a closet at home. It’s an opportunity to continue to play and develop friendships along the way. I probably drive furthest from the north. My brother comes up from Germantown just because there is no other band around. If you want to keep involved in playing, there are not many options around.”

While the Cedarburg Civic Band is still blowing strong after all these years, community bands are disappearing everywhere else.

“There are not too many around anymore,” said Roger Butt, who stepped down last year after 32 years as the bands director. “I don’t know what it is in the United States anymore, but the numbers are dwindling.”

In Cedarburg, family traditions such as the Boergers’ keep the music playing. “There are people who have been with the band for a long period of time, and it just kind of goes through the generations,” said Albert Abena, who also made his summer concert debut as the band’s new director Sunday night. “As members have kids, some of their kids inevitably get into music. They get recruited into the band and keep it alive.”

So the concerts go on, and communities that don’t have bands anymore borrow Cedarburg’s band for their parades.

“That’s one of the beauties with Cedarburg, that there is such a rich history, and people have stayed here and they have kept a lot of things alive,” Abena said “I think the band is one of the things that make Cedarburg the kind of community that it is.”