The Band

Meet the Lighthouse Big Band members. They are a combination of full and part time musicians that get together to form one of the most in demand Big Bands in the area. Most live and work in the "Fox Valley" of Wisconsin and look forward to getting together to produce Big Band sounds that audiences enjoy.


Callie Barbeau

Instrument(s): Saxophone

Day Job: Director of Bands, Brookfield Central High School

Musical career highlights:

Graduated from UW-Whitewater with a Music Education degree, studied saxophone with Dr. Matt Sintchak and Nick Zoulek, studied clarinet with Dr. Christian Ellenwood. Performed with UW-W Wind Ensemble and her college polka band in Austria and the Czech Republic, performed alongside Wild Space Dance Company in Milwaukee, WI for their sold out show "Into the Garden." Performs in area pit orchestras, continues to study classical, jazz, and new-music for saxophone, and plays Alto II for the Lighthouse Big Band.

Interesting facts (non-musical): She enjoys swimming, biking, running, and traveling in her spare time.

Craig Hietpas

Instrument(s): Saxophone

Day Job: Director of Bands, JR Gerritts Middle School

Musical career highlights: Craig is a performer that is in high demand. You can see him performing throughout the Fox Valley in many ensembles.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Craig enjoys music, books, movies, spending time outdoors and the mobile game Star Wars Galaxy Heroes.

Nickole Kawleski

Instrument(s): Saxophone

Day Job: Band Teacher, Fond du Lac Area Schools

Musical career highlights: Nickole plays in many different ensembles around the Area. Some of these include the Fond du Lac Symphonic Band and the New Century Jazz Orchestra. Nickole performs with church groups and directs and performs with musical Pit Orchestras.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Nickole has a last name that no one (except her family) know how to pronounce correctly.

Matt McVeigh

Instrument(s): Saxophone

Day Job: Sun Prairie High School Band and Jazz Director

Musical career highlights: Matt McVeigh has dedicated his life to instill passion for jazz in kids. Currently, he teaches at Sun Prairie High School where he directs band and jazz ensemble. Prior to that he taught at Fond du Lac High School. Matt serves as a jazz clinician and performer throughout the area. He is a contributor to the GIA publication Teaching Music Through Performance in Jazz and has performed on Holland American Cruise Lines, as well as appeared with the Benny Goodman Orchestra and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Matt is short for Matthew

Jake Opperman

Instrument(s): Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Flute, Clarinet

Day Job: Band Teacher

Musical career highlights: Jake has played music in the US, Mexico, and Dominican Republic. He studied Saxophone, Woodwinds, and Jazz Improvisation and Composition at UW Stevens Point.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Jake enjoys frisbee golf, regular golf, and video games.

Gerry Scudella

Instrument(s): Tenor Saxophone

Day Job: Retired band director Horace Mann HS -North Fond du Lac 1984-2019, Plymouth HS 1980-1984

Musical career highlights: Played drums in Ron Harvey’s Phase IV where he met his wife Sandy Schmitz. Other bands include Vintage and Concrete Grass.

Played alto sax in the FDL Symphonic Band for 30 years. Currently, a liturgical musician with wife Sandy for Holy Family Catholic Community; playing soprano sax. Also plays for weddings, especially for former students.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Enjoys traveling to Europe with his wife Sandy and playing tennis. Gerry recently took up golf with his brother Gavin.

Dick Wehner

Instrument(s): Baritone Saxophone

Day Job: Retired Lawyer

Musical career highlights:

Studied Saxophone with Searl Pickett at St. Norbert College and Eugene Rousseau at Indiana University. Prior to Law School I taught music in De Pere Wisconsin at, what was then, Abbot Pennings High School. Since that time I have played in classical saxophone quartets and other groups similar to the Lighthouse Big Band.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Dick makes bratwurst and loves the saxophone, cars and motorcycles. He just wishes he could do them all at the same time! And sometimes he tries to do them all at the same time. Now that's fun!!



Tim George

Instrument(s): Trombone

Day Job: Retired Chiropractor

Musical career highlights: Tim can be seen just about everywhere playing his

trombone. He is a highly in demand musician who performs with many ensembles

throughout the Fox Valley, such as Lighthouse Big Band, Water City Jazz Orchestra,

Big Band Reunion, pit orchestras, and others. He has played as a sideman in the

Harry James Orchestra, Funky Norman, as backup musician for Marie Osmond, and

in many bands accompanying visiting nationally known jazz figures.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Well okay, it’s music related, but Tim has played and

is still playing innumerable events and gigs with his best buddy since 6th grade

(1963!). Music has been a source of great fun and satisfaction, and he believes it is a

great benefit to anyone to learn music and to stay involved in it.

John Lepien

Instrument(s): Trombone

Day Job: Master Plumber, Fenner Plumbing & Heating

Musical career highlights: John can be seen performing with several ensembles through out the area. He plays everything from classical to big band jazz.

Interesting facts (non-musical): John can often be seen wearing an earpiece connected to his phone. He is either monitoring phone calls to his business or listening to baseball games.

James Ninnemann

Instrument(s): Trombone

Day Job: Band Instrument Repair Technician

Musical career highlights: Founding member of Dorf Kapelle (1988)

Interesting facts (non-musical): Graduate of The University of Johnsonville

Tom Perry

Instrument(s): Trombone

Day Job: Retired music educator

Musical career highlights: BME UW Oshkosh, Graduate work Indiana University, American School Band Directors Association member, Band Director Fond du Lac Catholic Schools, Suring Public Schools, Elmbrook/Brookfield Public Schools, Trombonist Lighthouse Big Band, Waukesha Jazz Express, Mohawk Avenue Jazz Band, Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, Fond du Lac Symphonic Band and Oshkosh Symphony Orchestra.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Tom enjoys wintering in Texas and Florida and partying with his adult children.

Michael Wagner

Instrument(s): Trombone

Day Job: Retired Band Director

Musical career highlights: Mike grew up in Fond du Lac, WI and is a product of the Fond du Lac music department. He attended U.W. - Stevens Point, U.W. Center - Fond du Lac and graduated with a B.M.E, from U.W. - Oshkosh in 1979. He studied Bass Trombone since 1974 and continues to perform on Bass Trombone. Mike taught almost 40 years at the Brillion Public Schools and retired in June 2019. In Brillion he was in charge of the Marching Band, Pep Band, Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble 1 and 2, the Pit Orchestra and solo/ensemble. Currently he adjudicates with the Wisconsin School Music Association. He earned his Masters in Computer Technology in 2005 and it has helped him to fill out forms on-line.

Mike has had the good fortune to perform for a number of statewide ensembles including the WJRB, an original member of the Big Band Reunion, Oshkosh Symphony, Fox Valley Symphony, Green Bay Symphony, Wisconsin Adult All-Star Big Band under the direction of Lovell Ives, The Green Bay Packer Big Band and the Green Bay Packer Tailgater Band. Other performance highlights included as a sideman with Jimmy Dorsey, Chicago, Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Vic Damone, the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Moody Blues, Engelburt Humperdinck, Lou Rawls, Johnny Mathis, Burt Bacharach, Bobby Vinton, Hal Lindon and others.

Mike was fortunate to be involved at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts as Bass Trombonist for National Music Tours including Secret Garden, Camelot, Crazy For You , West Side Story and others.

He currently performs in the Lake Geneva area with the Beloit/Janesville Symphony Orchestra and as a sub for the Lake Geneva Symphony Orchestra along with the Lighthouse Big Band.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Mike likes spending his free time with his family, kids and grandkids. He likes riding his moped around the village (his wife won't let me get a real motorcycle! lol) and has taken up oil painting. Mike stays positive and always looks to the future.


Mark Burazin PhD

Instrument(s): Trumpet, Fluegelhorn, Cornet

Day Job: Exploratory Research, Kimberly-Clark (Retired)

Musical career highlights:

Currently plays in the Lighthouse Big Band, TNT Band (combo playing assisted living homes) and studies Jazz Improvisation at Curran Music Studios. Mark occasionally plays in Pit Orchestras and Churches. He formerly played with the Fox Cities Swing Band, Oshkosh Area Community Band, Racine Kilties Drum and Bugle Corps and the Gladiators Drum and Bugle Corps.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Set Builder / Actor of Last Resort in support of the Directing career of my ever vivacious wife, Therese

Brad Curran

Instrument(s): Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Cuica

Day Job: Retired band director, freelance musician

Musical career highlights:

Originally from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Brad Curran is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh. He began playing trumpet in the fourth grade and was playing gigs and arranging by age twelve. Since that time, he has had the good fortune to perform in a variety of musical settings ranging from classical to jazz to pop/rock including appearances with jazz stars Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Med Flory and Supersax, Conte Candoli, Bill Watrous and Buddy DeFranco among others. Other diverse credits include the San Diego Concert Jazz Band, the Temptations, the Miss Wisconsin Pageant Orchestra, musical director and trumpet soloist with the Jan Garber Orchestra, various symphony orchestras, wind ensembles, brass ensembles and numerous recording sessions. Curran was the musical arranger for the Miss Wisconsin Pageant (prior to the age of pre-recorded music,) as well as writing for school bands, jazz bands, dance bands, solo trumpet and commercial music. He has taught trumpet students at all levels, is involved with both the Fond du Lac Jazz Festival and the Fox Jazz Festival in performance and board member roles, and is past-president of the Jazz Corner Society.

Brad is now retired after teaching 4 years in the Oshkosh Area School District, where he was the band director at Webster Stanley Middle School, and freshman brass instructor at Oshkosh West High School, following 26 years of teaching instrumental music at Seton Catholic Middle School in Menasha. He previously played principal trumpet for 10 years with the Oshkosh Brass Quintet, was leader of one of the Green Bay Packers "Tailgaters" bands for 19 years, performed with Vic Ferrari and the Symphony on the Rocks for 8 years, and spent 7 years with Marshall Vente's Mohawk Avenue Jazz Band, comprised of 8 musicians ranging from the Chicago, Milwaukee and (!) Fox Valley area.

Curran currently is the leader and a featured jazz soloist with the17 member Lighthouse Big Band, is a featured jazz soloist with the 18 piece Appleton-based Big Band Reunion, and the Intermediate Jazz instructor at Neenah High School. He also leads a variety of groups, including the Jazz Quartet DIG , the Mid-West Coast Jazz Octet, and the "Birth of the Cool Revisited". In addition to free-lance performance, arranging and recording work with a number of midwest bands, he also maintains a busy private teaching studio consisting of anywhere from 12 to 20 students. A huge advocate of jazz education, Brad is a past-president of the Wisconsin unit of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE), a founding member of the new Wisconsin Association for Jazz Education (WI-AJE,) and a charter member of the Jazz Education Network (JEN).

Interesting facts (non-musical): Retirement is good for Brad. He is enjoying gardening, bird watching, cooking (and eating) exotic foods, and long walks with his better half.

Patrick Grasley

Instrument(s): Trumpet, Flugelhorn

Day Job: Co-Owner/Operator Service Oil Company, Inc. am Auto Repair Center/Convenience Store/BP Gas Station in Oshkosh

Musical career highlights:

Studied Trumpet in the Oshkosh Public Schools along with 15 years Private Trumpet Lessons. Pat has performed in Concert Bands, Wisconsin State Honors Bands, Oshkosh Symphony, Brass Quintets, Drum and Bugle Corps. and finally in a Big Band since joining LBB in 2016.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Pat is a "Jeep-aholic", since he has owned 4 of them in the last 20 years. Right now his Summer Ride is a 42 year old Jeep CJ-7.

Dave Riedl

Instrument(s): Trumpet and Flugelhorn

Day Job: Retired Veterinarian

Musical career highlights: Dave learned to play while attending the Hortonville Area Schools (HAS). He took a break from playing in college and veterinary school and resumed when his son started playing the trumpet in the Neenah School District. Dave was invited to play in a big band (the HASband) in his home town and took lessons from Brad Curran in order to get good enough to stay in the band. Dave was asked to sub in the Lighthouse Big Band and soon asked to be a permanent member.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Dave is married to Barb and has two musical children, Austin and Abby, a musical daughter-in-law, Katie, two cats and a dog. Dave is an avid racing fan that can be found at Road America most summer weekends.

Joe Tondu

Instrument(s): Trumpet

Day Job: No thanks!

Musical career highlights:

Trumpet since 5th grade. Various college and community jazz bands.

Laney College - Oakland CA, 1975 - 1977

College of the Redwoods - Ukiah CA - 1992 - 1997

Bob Ayres Big Band - Mendocino CA - 1992 - 1997

Big Band Reunion - Appleton, WI,

Musical Director - Fox Cities Swing Band - Appleton WI - 2011 - 2016

Currently 4th trumpet and band librarian with the Lighthouse Big Band - Fond du Lac, WI

Radio programmer for KZYX Philo, CA - “Jazz For A Saturday Afternoon” - 1989 - 1992

Jazz writer for Arts & Entertainment Magazine - “Clef Notes” - Mendocino CA - 1990 - 1998

Jazz club owner - the Fox Note - Princeton WI - 2004 - 2008

Committee, board member and Festival newsletter editor, Fox Jazz Fest, Menasha WI - 2007 - 2014

Interesting facts (non-musical): Joe says that gravity affects time, Aliens are real, You never walk in the same stream twice


Rob Milanowski

Instrument(s): Drum Set

Day Job: Retired Software Developer

Musical career highlights:

Drummer and Percussionist with the Lighthouse Big Band, Fond du Lac Symphonic Band and the Paul Thelen Trio/Quartet. Substitute drummer for various jazz, rock and variety bands throughout East Central Wisconsin. Musical Pit Percussionist/Drummer for several High School and Community theater groups around the region.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Rob answers to Rob, Bob and Robert. He enjoys brewing beer and motorcycling. (Never on the same day)

Phil Schmahl

Instrument(s): Bass

Day Job: Band and Choral director at St. Mary's Springs Academy, Fond du Lac

Musical career highlights: Phil is a performer that is in high demand. He can be seen playing with many different ensembles in the area.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Phil's favorite beer is Spotted Cow.

Paul Thelen

Instrument(s): Keyboard

Day Job: Director of Liturgy and Music, Holy Family Catholic Community

Musical career highlights:

Studied music at Silver Lake College, Manitowoc. Sound engineering at UW Oshkosh. Accompanist for area college, high school and middle school choirs. Perform regularly with the Lighthouse Big Band, The Downtowners, Paul Thelen quartet, The Thelen Sisters Band, and sub occasionally with the Water City Jazz Orchestra. Keyboards for Community Theater and area high school theater productions.

Interesting facts (non-musical): Paul enjoys travel. Especially international travel.