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Continued: Minnesota band with roots in box of cereal is still feeling its oats in the Brooklyns

  • Article by: ANNA PRATT , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Last update: July 23, 2013 - 3:34 PM

Members do they’re part; the band is all-volunteer and participants pay membership fees.

A family tradition

Mary Sorenson grew up going to band concerts as a youngster in the mid-70s. Both of her parents and several other family members spent many years in the band. So it was only natural that after she graduated from high school in 1981, she would continue the tradition.

She wasn’t the best of flute players when she started out, but “I got better over the years,” she said.

Besides, nobody’s ego gets in the way, Sorenson said. “Everyone gets along. People help each other out. It’s a good, cohesive group.”

And it’s an opportunity to meet people from all walks of life who share a love for music.

Given that “there are so many changes in life, with people moving around, job changes. It’s neat to have something constant,” Sorenson said.

Two charter members

Carol Abild, a charter member, joined the band at her sister-in-law’s urging. She’d been a tuba player in high school, but the then-12-member band had four tubas, so she switched to the French horn.

Her mother, who had played piano for silent movies, instilled a love of music in her. For Abild and her siblings, “It wasn’t a question of whether we would play an instrument, but which one,” she said.

She’s stayed with it because “it’s just a constant enjoyment of music, learning new pieces,” she said.

Another founding member, drummer Donald Severson Sr., signed up after seeing an advertisement. His wife, Mickey, was a tuba player in the band early on, as well.

Severson took a hiatus at one point when work got busy, then returned to the band nearly a dozen years ago. “It was a strange experience. I had the music, my hands responded to what I could see,” he said. “I got used to it again. It’s like riding a bicycle. It comes back.”

The band is fun but also offers a sense of accomplishment, he said. “There’s something, an ineffable feeling, on a rare occasion, when everything seems to go right. You’re in a group and all of a sudden, you become one.”


Anna Pratt is a Minneapolis freelance writer.

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