Ken Lovely’s information technology (IT) work requires concentration, but on Wednesday nights and weekends, his mind is set on a much different challenge, playing the mellophone for Minnesota Brass, a 110-member brass percussion and color guard group.
Lovely has a lot going on. A dozen seasons playing the French horn with the Minnesota Symphonic Winds had kept his instrumental passion alive, which he traces to his junior high years in Merrill, Wis. Prior to his IT path, Lovely was in hotel management. “I decided I didn’t want to work 24 hours a day,” said Lovely, who came to Luther in 2005.
Calm and unassuming, some employees may remember him making site visits, but he now maintains much of Luther’s website network. “There’s a lot of automation behind the scenes,” he said.
Separating his 20-hour a week music commitment from his work demands focus. “You have to concentrate on what’s in front of you,” said Lovely. “You have to relax, otherwise you’re not going to be successful at either. He joined the brass group partly because he wasn’t sure how much longer he could perform. A few members are in their early 60s.
Minnesota Brass rehearses and plays from January through the summer, with competitions and a championship around Labor Day. Added to the music is movement, which takes time to master, getting outside to learn the drill.
“Music is a big anchor for me, I’ve been doing it for so long,” said Lovely. He’s always wanted to join a brass group. The activity is strenuous, physically and mentally, and very challenging because he said he’s learning so much in a small amount of time. Still, he looks forward to each rehearsal.
Parades in Morristown and Fridley will be followed by field competitions in St. Peter, Woodbury, St. Paul, and a couple on the east coast. A total of 15 groups perform for the finals at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. “The hardest is making a nice sound. It is quite athletic, you have to work at it to get the ranges, the really high notes, low notes. It takes muscle competencies and repetitions.”
Contrasting the loud music with marching, Lovely often tours his award winning rose garden on mornings before work. He picks lovely samples for coworkers from the 190 varieties he nurtures for competition and photography. “It’s quite relaxing for me … always good, things growing, green, flowers are colorful,” he said. Lovely has won best in show for the area district of the American Rose Society.