The Rauma Youth Band was born in 1949, when a dozen of boys from the Karin Koulu elementary school started practicing wind music under the guidance of Pentti Jalonen. The very first make-up of the orchestra-to-be comprised of the players Ensio Jokinen, Heikki Karenmaa, Pasi Packalen, Pertti Schoultz, Jorma Stenvall, Veli Tamminen, Seppo Toivola, Pekka Tuominen and Jukka Virtanen. No later than a year after its foundation, the young wind band got to perform outside of school occasions. As if foreseeing the gorgeous uniforms sported by the Youth Band today, the Osuuspankki bank donated a stack of velvet, which the Karin Koulu Wind Band’s first blue uniform outfits were made of.
A CHANGE OF NAME
In the autumn 1951 “Pepe” became a teacher in a new school named Otan Koulu. The transfer was nothing short of beneficial, for the wind band was given room where to practice for decades to come. At the time the band finally settled for the name ‘Rauman Poikasoittokunta’, which roughly translates into “Rauma Boy’s Band” (the English version being understandably more gender-neutral). Poikasoittokunta attracted young musicians from several schools around the town. In the same year of 1951 the number of players in the band was modest 24.
In this sense, the best of years have been in the 1980’s and at present, when there has been a total of around 120 players in the bands. Today there are almost 70 promising young players in the ‘advanced’ A-band, some 50 in the ‘basic’ B-band and about 40 players in the ‘elementary’ C-band.
THE FORESHADOWING FIRST CONCERT AND THE TRIP ABROAD
When the first public concert by the Rauma Youth Band was held in March 1953 in the Ota School hall, the band was of 30 around 13-year-old players. The repertory of the said concert would be the very same that was performed three months later in the Gjøvik Youth Band Festival in Norway. The band left for the two-day festival in late June by bus, via Tornio. The festival was undoubtedly a grand experience for the young band of 32 players, for there were around 7000 players participating in total.
Ever since, trips abroad and establishment of international connections have been customary for the Rauma Youth Band. After the fateful trip to Norway, the Youth Band has traveled to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, England, the United States, Estonia, Latvia, Crete, Austria and, the most recent exploit of the band, Italy.
Girls aboard in 1956
The first girls to join the (Rauma Boy’s) Band were the clarinetists Leena and Heli Salonen, and the alto horn players Liisa and Ulla Jokinen. This was a turning point for the Youth Band. 50 years later there would actually be more girls than males in the originally all-boys wind band.
Many of the sons and daughters raised by the Youth Band have indeed become professional musicians in Finnish and international orchestras. Such internationally recognized musicians today include Anna-Maija Korsimaa, Jouko Harjanne and Markus Maskuniitty, among others.
PEPE AND THE ACKNOWLEDGED WORK OF 60 YEARS
Dir.mus Pentti Jalonen led his wind band for almost five decades. In 1995, the new conductors of the Youth Band were revealed. The Band A would be conducted by Hannu Salminen, and the Band B was taken over by Sanna Joki-Korpela. The both had played in the Youth Band before. There were around 80 active players in the band at the time of Pepes due and respectable withdrawal.
It was on the 10th of March 1996, and the annual concert held by the band. Pentti “Pepe” Jalonen was honoured by the Finnish Wind Ensemble Association with the unique medal with rubies for the 60 years of work for Finnish wind music. Pepe himself had started playing music in a band organized by the Rauma congregation when he was 12 years old. Instruments played by him include the alto horn, the clarinet and the flugelhorn.
The 50th annual concert of the Youth Band was held on the 14th of March in 1999. “The Rauma Youth Band History 1949-1999” written by Mikko Uola was also published at the time. It was no coincident that ten years later the “Soittis” magazine was published and delivered to almost every household in the town. The publication was mostly written by the band members themselves, the greatest piece of news being about the victorious trip to Austria.
At present, the Band A is conducted by Anne Lehtomäki-Koskinen, and the bands B and C are led by Timo Katila.