Heart of the Lakes Community Band was the leading musical performance at this year’s Fourth of July celebration in Fergus Falls’ Roosevelt Park. Based out of Battle Lake, the band is made up entirely of area community members who have a passion for music and sharing their talents.
JoAnn Orpen has been the director of Heart of the Lakes Community Band for 17 years and was excited to play as part of the holiday celebration, the band’s only summer performance this year. Typically they only play two concerts a year, in the winter and spring, at the Battle Lake School, but have also performed in various local parades and the Battle Lake LACC summer concert series. For Memorial Day, the band combines with students from Battle Lake to play for the Memorial Day program. Headlining the Fourth of July was something new and exciting for them.
The band’s roster is frequently changing, as members move in, move away, graduate, pass away, become parents or are otherwise swept away by the ebb and flow of life, but typically there are 20-odd players. They range from as young as 11 to as old as 92, with playing experience ranging from one year to 80 years. “It is a unique collection of people with the common interest of music. They love to make music together – period,” says Orpen. “There is no pay. There is no glory. The audiences for their concerts are usually small, but they work hard to give the best possible performance each and every time.”
Band members come from all over the area, including Fergus Falls, Underwood, Detroit Lakes, New York Mills, Richville and Perham. “They come in all kinds of weather, while facing health issues, when they could be sleeping in, etc., when it would be so much easier to stay at home,” says Orpen.
Saxophonist Jane Wasvick began playing in the band when she was in the fifth grade, but became too busy with work and family to continue. After being challenged by some friends to give it another shot, she went ahead and has been playing ever since. “The great friendships I’ve made along with the stress relief of concentrating on something outside of work and family is priceless,” she says. “I play in several bands as each challenges me in a different way and enjoy every minute of it, even the butterflies when I have an important part in a song that has to be just right.”
Typically, the band plays standard concert fare, a march, a Broadway tune, something jazzy, something novel, along with a featured solo or ensemble. For the Fourth of July, they stuck with the theme of the holiday, playing patriotic songs and Americana.