When it comes to weddings and receptions, one almost universal requirement is music. There are a myriad of options for both, but one local group has carved a niche as a melodic and unique option for either or both. The Jaenicke Consort, first founded by two local college students looking for opportunities to play, provides a remarkably adaptable and adept alternative to the typical band or DJ. Offering various musical combinations – five members who can play in a number of configurations – the Jaenicke Consort have been performing in various platforms and venues for more than 25 years.
But the origins of the group pre-date that to a time years earlier when students Sally Hinkle-Teegarden and Nancy Martin were earning their IU degrees in music in Fort Wayne. Looking for opportunities to play together, Hinkle-Teegarden, who plays bassoon, and Martin, who plays flute and piccolo, began putting together duos and trios to play in a variety of settings. Eventually the group began to get larger, first calling itself the Appleseeds. When Hinkle-Teegarden moved briefly to New York City, the Appleseeds went on without her, so upon her return she began performing with Martin and other musicians under the name the Jaenicke Consort.
Hinkle-Teegarden’s interest in the bassoon dates back to her days at North Side High School under the direction of Ed King, a legendary figure in Fort Wayne’s high school music scene.
“Chamber music was just starting to become big when I was in high school,” she said, “and I decided to switch from trumpet to bassoon because Ed King pointed out that in chamber groups the bassoon really stands out. The bassoon has a really unique sound, and in a quartet you’re going to be the only bassoon player, so if you don’t play, it doesn’t happen. You can really hear me.”
Hinkle-Teegarden opted to major in music education, and in the process was required to learn all of the instruments, a talent which has proven invaluable to her work as the primary arranger for the Jaenicke Consort. Finding ways to adapt music to a variety of performances and venues was an asset as the consortium – which includes Hinkle-Teegarden, Martin, Susan Devito (on flute, sax and clarinet), George Donner (oboe, French horn) and Bryan Gibson (French horn) – began finding jobs around the city.
“We started playing at weddings, church services, and some of our early gigs were at the Three Rivers Festival,” says Hinkle-Teegarden. “We started to have a lot of arrangements, and now we have over 1,000 pieces in our repertoire. The group says I do a good job with them and like what I do. I can play a piece on the piano and hear how I want the flute line to go. And I can not only hear the line but add some embellishments. I’m not a composer, but I can take a piece and find a way to make it sound good for a quartet or quintet.”
In fact, Hinkle-Teegarden is working with the musicians’ union to distribute some of the Jaenicke pieces to other groups to earn royalties. As the reputation of Hinkle-Teegarden’s arrangements and the talents of the consortium become more widely known, the group hopes to continue to find jobs outside the immediate area. Some extra effort Hinkle-Teegarden has taken over the years has made playing in such a variety of situations more comfortable.
“One of our worst events was at a Three Rivers Festival just after Headwaters Park opened. There was no covering for the platform or the stage at that point, and nearby there were monster speakers blaring rock music. On one side was a toilet and on the other was the lemon shake-up truck. That was what was going on the whole time we played, so I said ‘Next year we will have a tent.’ So now we have a tent and can use that for all kinds of weather. We once played a wedding at Pokagon in 110 degree weather and were able to stay cool.”
Hinkle-Teegarden’s arrangements not only bring out the best in the group but also cater to the many moods of those who hire the Jaenicke Consort.
“We’ve done some pretty unique weddings,” she says. “One couple wanted a Star Wars wedding, so I had the women come out to the theme for Princess Leia and the men come out to the music of Darth Vader. I did arrangements for a Godfather-themed wedding and for one wedding, where the couple were childhood sweethearts and met at Disney World, I did an arrangement of ‘Small World.’ We had a mixed marriage once – one family was IU, one was Purdue – and played both themes. We try to find a way to tailor a wedding to the couple as much as possible. We never know what we’re going to play until we talk to them, but then after we have the arrangement, we just tuck that into our portfolio in case we need it again. We have so much music now that we can easily play for four to five hours and never repeat ourselves.”
The Janenicke Consort have played at some unique events as well, including a butterfly release and a re-internment ceremony at Lindenwood Cemetary.
“That one was a little weird but also very touching.”
With a growing reputation that takes them outside of Fort Wayne for some performances and an astonishing catalog of arrangements at the ready, the Jaenicke Consort are pretty much ready for anything. In fact, if the quintet at hand needs a little something extra, they have an added weapon on the sidelines.
“If we ever need an accordion, George’s wife Ann is available to join us, too.”
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July 11 • Foellinger Theatre