New director takes charge of Irish band

The bad news is that there won’t be a marching band program this summer at Maple Lake High School.

But the good news is that there will be one next year, under the direction of Tony Mazzone.

Mazzone was hired last week after the school board made the decision earlier this spring not to renew the contract of Chris Porter, who served as Instrumental Music instructor and band director over the past two years.

Mazzone said his first act as new director was to meet with students, and all involved came to the conclusion that canceling this marching band season was the best course of action.

“Preparation in the spring is so critical to having a successful marching band,” Mazzone said. “Our priority is to have a positive and quality experience for students and I wouldn’t want to risk putting them through a negative experience that would be detrimental to them and the future of this program.”

He also said that the people of Maple Lake are accustomed to quality.  “The tradition of excellence and pride in the band in Maple Lake is too long and too good to put something together at the last minute,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with the kids this fall to build a strong program.”

Mazzone graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, with degrees in both instrumental and vocal music education while participating in various college ensembles such as jazz band, concert band, orchestra and concert choir. “Basically, I’ve had a real diverse experience as far as teaching and performing,” he said.     Mazzone’s first musical experience in Minnesota was at Valley Fair as the Beach Band drummer just after his college graduation in 1998. Since then, he’s had two years of teaching experience at Onamia, followed by two years at Becker.

Although Mazzone’s parents live in Wisconsin, his sister and her family live in Plymouth, a short trip from his home in St. Cloud.

And now he has a connection to Maple Lake.  “I’m very excited to be in Maple Lake,” he said. “I’m very aware of the tradition here and am looking forward to coming to Maple Lake and working with parents and staff. And I’m also excited about the parent support. It’s so important to have parents who want to be involved in the education of their students.”