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Elton Eisele, EAA 216273, has been involved as a volunteer with EAA for 36 years, helping out with everything from departure briefings during AirVenture to fixing up Volkswagens to general volunteering at EAA headquarters. One of the more uncommon duties he has as a volunteer is organizing and directing the AirVenture Concert Band each year.
The concert band, which has performed at 12 AirVenture events since it was formed, consists of about 80 musicians who are given music prior to Oshkosh and are expected to learn it by the time the end of July rolls around. Since its inception, more than 500 people have performed with the band.
As a former high school band director, Elton was inspired to start the AirVenture Concert Band after discussions with a number of musicians at the air show who thought it would be a great opportunity to bring their passion for aviation and music together.
“I just thought it would be really neat,” Elton said. “I would run into people that were in music and they’d say ‘Wow, we’ve got to have a band.’ … Then I met somebody that used to play piccolo in the Sousa Band, and he was here, and so I said, ‘Let’s get this thing going.’ So, we got things going, and it’s been a pretty strong element [of AirVenture].”
As far as the type of music the concert band plays, it varies year to year. There’s usually aviation-themed selections, and the band will typically perform the national anthem prior to the daily air show once during the week.
“There’s really several pieces of music that we play every year,” he said. “We’ve always played Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, and we’ve also had four pieces of music written for the band. Experimental Aircraft March is one of them. This Is My Country, Sousa Spectacular, Eternal Father, Strong to Save, Swoop to America — this goes through all the armed forces things with that at the end — and then March Grandioso. A lot of these things we’ve done before, and it helps the band because a lot of the people already know their music. We’ve done Air Force One, we’ve done Apollo 11 [and] The Great Waldo Pepper. So, I put them on a rotating basis type of a thing.”