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The Eden Prairie Community Band is an adult community band of over sixty musicians most, but not all coming from Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The group was organized in 1973 and is under the direction of Tom Muehlbauer. In addition to the concert band, a subset of members also participate in Jazz on the Prairie Big Band under the direction of Rob Estrine. The band is also home for the Prairie Ramblers (Dixieland) and a number of woodwind and brass ensembles.
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The purpose of the Eden Prairie Community Band is to entertain the people of Eden Prairie and surrounding communities, while fostering and promoting the community band experience by providing a means for adult musicians to play for their mutual enjoyment and musical growth.
The Eden Prairie Community Band was founded with 23 players in 1973 by Mr. Emmet (Em) Stark. The objective of the “All Comers Band,” as the group was first called, was to serve as a creative outlet for high school students and adult members of the community. The band was a summer program through August 1981 before becoming a year-round band in 1982.
In 1996, the band was chosen to represent the United States as part of the musical celebration of Austria’s millennium. The trip included performances in several Austrian cities as well as in Budapest, Hungary. In 1998, the band returned to Europe with an extensive tour of Italy and Switzerland.
Marilyn Rateike became the director of the Eden Prairie Community Band upon Mr. Stark’s retirement in 1999. In 2002, the band traveled to China when they were invited by the Chinese American Cultural Bridge Center to participate in a cultural exchange program. The band toured and played in Ireland and Scotland in 2005.
Thomas Maeck took over for Marilyn in 2006. In 2008, the EPCB toured and performed in Greece under his leadership. During his tenure, the band was proud to be a part of a newly commissioned work for band entitled “Streets of Honor” by Daniel Kallmen.
Tom Muehlbauer enthusiastically stepped into the director role in 2016.
Band members also have the opportunity to perform in ensemble groups, including Jazz on the Prairie and The Prairie Schooners. Mr. Stark originally created the Jazz on the Prairie ensemble before Jerry Cerchia became the director upon Mr. Stark’s retirement. Don Bates took over in 2002 and the jazz band now meets weekly and performs several concerts in Eden Prairie and surrounding communities each year. The group even hosts several area jazz bands at its annual Minnesota Festival of Jazz on the Prairie each June at the Staring Lake Amphitheatre. The Prairie Schooners is a Dixieland jazz group that performs at a variety of events in the area.
The band also provides community services. Members of the community band comprise the pit orchestra for the musicals staged by the Eden Prairie Players Community Theater every summer. Every December, the band performs at its annual Share the Warmth concert, where audience members are encouraged to donate food to the local food shelf. In the summer months, members of the band “adopt-a-highway” and volunteer to clean up a portion of Pioneer trail east of Flying Cloud Airport.