Colorado State University has a wide range of music ensembles, including a polka band. The ensemble, dedicated solely to playing polka music, is called the Neue Polka Colorado.
This ensemble has upwards of 25 members that perform in the northern Colorado area, focusing mainly in Oktoberfest events.
“I love the environment and the atmosphere of it,” said sophomore music education major and tuba player Gavin Milburn.
The band plays both traditional Bavarian and Austrian marchers, waltzes, polkas and modern renditions of popular songs from artists like Britney Spears and the White Stripes.
“I’m just looking forward to play this music,” said tuba player Brett Huston. “It’s a lot of fun.”
The band has between 10 and 15 members at each gig with flexible instrumentation. While initially unpaid, many gigs are now paid, and the band is hired by public and private employers.
In the past, the Neue Polka Band has performed at Longmont and Loveland Oktoberfests, the Jammin’ Ram Run 5K, private parties at brewing companies.
“I’m expecting a lot of poka, a lot of beer and seeing shenanigans in the crowd,” Huston said.
The polka band was created by music professors Chris Van Hoff and John Mcguire to give their brass students more experience in the field.
“I love being able to have this opportunity and having that experience of being on stage,” Milburn said.
Brass players in the School of Theater, Music and Dance can use this experience to help prepare them for performances outside of the classroom environment.
“I love polka, playing the tuba and having beer.” Huston said.
Van Hoff and McGuire decided to start the CSU Polka Band after a CSU faculty tour to central Europe in the summer of 2014, according the CSU Music website.
Van Hoff and McGuire listened to bands playing in both Munich and Austria when the thought struck them to create the CSU group.
The motivation to help create the group was solidified as they continued traveling through Europe where they saw the strong brewing culture and related it to that of Fort Collins’.
The Polka Band has served to help these students gain more gig experience. The band performs paying and non-paying gigs, and the students receive a cut of the profits from.
The band primarily focuses on gaining paid gigs in order to not promote free work among their students, Van Hoff wrote on the website.
The Neue Polka Band recently preformed at the Oktoberfest celebrations in Longmont and will continue to play at gigs throughout the season.