Most YOBC families know David Osenberg as a YOBC dad. Luke graduated in 2014 and Isaac currently plays clarinet in Fanfare Winds and Symphony Orchestra. They may also recognize him as the emcee of YOBC concerts — a role he has performed for a decade. His voice may be familiar as an on-air personality and music director at WWFM, where his Credenza program has twice been awarded the ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Radio Broadcast Award. He also leads YOBC’s Brass Ensemble. But on February 10, 2018, attendees at YOBC’s Swing, Swing, Swing benefit will see yet another hat David wears: leader of The Straight Ahead Big Band which will provide live music for YOBC’s 1940s dance party.
David formed the group almost 15 years ago as a way to keep playing the music he loved. He played big band music all through high school and college in the Chicago area. So in 2004 he raided his alma mater’s music library and collected 70 charts to start practicing. The 22-piece band is made up of music teachers and other musicians who, like him, just enjoy playing in a big band. Six of the current members have been in the band since day one.
The group started out rehearsing casually at Hope Lutheran Church in Levittown where they would get together every 4–6 weeks to play around. After they got a regular summer gig in Hatboro, they decided they needed to practice twice a month. They moved from Hope Lutheran to a space at Mercer County (NJ) Community College, but looked for a rehearsal venue in Bucks County so the musicians didn’t have to travel so far to practice.
David learned that George School in Newtown had no jazz program. Their music teacher, Steve Heitzer, did some jazz combos with interested students and taught some improv, but it was difficult for students there to find time to study and take music lessons. David offered in exchange for a rehearsal space to allow interested students to sit in with his big band and play as much as they were comfortable playing.
After about two years at George School, David discovered that an English teacher there, Shantel Hubert, was a professional singer. He invited her to sing, and she has now become the face of the band.
The group is available for events and plays a variety of gigs for nonprofit groups and galas. They offer a wide range of music styles from swing, to rock, latin, and many others. Those 70 charts have now grown to over 5000, and David programs performances by theme. They have “songbooks” for love, travel, and any other themes event organizers choose. For YOBC’s Swing Swing Swing party, David’s band will play lots of the old big band standards to keep everyone on their toes. Some YOBC students will be joining the big band at the benefit.So make sure to get your tickets, shine your dancing shoes and come out to be-bop with the best.
Katie Brennan was a cellist in YOBC from 1998–2003, starting in Concert Orchestra and then spending four years in Symphony Orchestra. “Sunday practices at BCCC were something I would look forward to, and I made many good friends through YOBC,” Katie says. “Since my middle/high school program was strings only, playing with YOBC was a wonderful opportunity for me to work on some orchestral repertoire throughout the school year, versus waiting for County/Districts/Regionals.”
In the summer of 2002, Katie was a member of YOBC’s first international tour ensemble, visiting Austria and Germany with the group. “I loved getting to perform and listen to other groups, of course,” Katie recalls, “and shopping at Nuremburg and touring Neuschwanstein really stand out in my mind.”
Music was Katie’s main focus in school. For her undergraduate degree at The College of New Jersey, she majored in elementary education with a focus in music. “Any of my free time was spent practicing and participating in as many ensembles as possible,” she says. “I even convinced the Music Department to allow me to have a senior recital, even though it was not required or typically done for those in my major.”
Although Katie enjoyed teaching, she decided to keep performing and see what opportunities would come up if she went to graduate school for performance. She was accepted to Penn State University for her masters in cello performance, and “it really changed my playing and musicianship for the better,” she says. “Getting to only focus on music for a couple of years was an amazing thing.”
After her masters, Katie got married and she and her husband moved to Texas for his work. While there, she had an active teaching studio and was able to keep taking lessons herself and perform at weddings and other gigs. Once they moved back to the Philadelphia area, Katie really put that aspect of her business out there through her website and Facebook page. She stopped taking new students so that she could focus on weddings, events, and her other jobs.
Those other jobs include dog training, which has become a huge aspect of Katie’s life. After getting married, she and her husband got a puppy, and “she was a bit of a crazy one!” Katie explains. She attended training classes with her, but it didn’t seem to work. So Katie learned how to do it all on her own, and after a lot of time and effort, “that same dog has set many records and won high awards in various sports, and is just an overall amazing girl,” Katie notes proudly.
Katie also shows her dogs. She has four: three Finnish Spitz and a Sheltie. They all participate in various dog sports—agility, nose work, and obedience, to name a few. “I used to do dog training full time; I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant,” Katie says, “but I do not take on nearly as many private clients at this time due to my full-time job. I still take on private cases every once and a while, however, and I also teach agility classes regularly. Soon I will be launching an online dog training school with a colleague, so we’ve been working hard to get that going!”
Katie’s new job is serving as the Animal Control Officer (ACO) with the Middletown Township Police Department. This job has an office and set hours Monday through Friday. However, Katie is also on call 24/7 if the need arises. The job entails responding to loose or stray dog calls, handling animal nuisance complaints (such as noise), and dealing with dog bite cases, among other things. “If I can help with a wild animal call, I certainly will,” she says, “but I do not have all of the necessary equipment and training to handle those types of things, so I just do what I can.” Also through her position as an ACO, she works with two certified therapy dogs that act as canine ambassadors for community events and other outreach. They participate in police department functions as well as reading programs at schools in the township.
Katie says she is thankful that she grew up playing cello and that she got to participate in YOBC. “I believe that music has helped teach me how to express myself better and has allowed me to develop discipline in other aspects of my life, especially in terms of time management, setting short- and long-term goals, and working as part of a team.” While music might not be Katie’s main focus at this point in her life, she still keeps growing as a musician and works hard to keep performing as much as possible.
According to renowned composer Vladimir Horowitz, the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is practice. In this year’s Practice-A-Thon, YOBC students made an extraordinary contribution to the quality of the fall concerts as well as to YOBC’s scholarship fund. Practicing for over 55,000 minutes, the young musicians raised more than $7300 to help provide tuition assistance, scholarships, and music lessons to fellow students who might otherwise not be able to take part in YOBC programs.
This year’s top prize — the ensemble with the highest average practice time — went to Concertino. They will celebrate with a pizza party later in the spring. The highest-earning ensemble was Prima Strings. This 16-member group collected nearly a third of all money raised in the event.
YOBC is grateful to all of the students and their families who took part in this year’s Practice-A-Thon. Their efforts remind us of all the extraordinary people who make up the extended YOBC family who are essential to creating high-quality music programs.