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Humina Band on tour in Lahti, Finland

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This back of this photo was signed by some of the members including: Director: George Einar Wahlstrom Lauri Koykka, Veli Tuominen, Edwin Laatu, E. H. Kajander, Veino Mackey, Kaarlo Mackey, E. Kamppinen, Oscar Japilehti, Andrew Haapala, Herb Gray, Kaarlo V. Kalervo, P. Geadain, Elmer Ladvola, Waino W. Ranka, Pellervo Kangas "Pell", H. Kippola, Ellis Haapala, Einar Hilstrom, Victor Siimes, A.K. Peterson, M. Farman, Fred Jylha, Evert Johansson, E. Luoma, William Nordman, Maanus, Walt Sorrari, William Niskanen, John Nevaupera, Edwin T. Karhu, E. Karbacka, Aura Koykka, Laura J. Topky, Vera Turrs Naytta, Matthew E. Kippola, Wiljo Uttonen, and Elis Rosted


The Humina Band was organized April 18, 1894, and in 1900 it affiliated with the American Federation of Musicians. Tahti (Star), a small band organized in December, 1900, merged with Humina late in 1902. Of Humina's many conductor's (the first was a non-Finn), two names stand out: J.F. Jacobson and George Wahlstrom. Short-term leaders included John Ronnberg, Emil Rasanen, and Victor Taipale. J.F. Jacobson, born in Finland in 1872, received his training in the Battalion Band and in a Russian naval band. He immigrated to America in 1895 and joined Humina as its conductor in April 1897, a post he held, with several short interruptions for several decades. Both as an excellent teacher and conductor, he became the first major builder of the band, raising it to national prominence.

Elevating Humina to even greater heights was the achievement of George Wahlstrom. Born in Helsinki in 1883, he also received schooling in a military band-the Uusimaa Battlalion Band. He came to the U.S. in 1902. His career in the New World, as the following capsule biographic sketch indicates, was as distinguished as that of any immigrant musician. First settling in Maynard, Massachusetts, which gave him widespread fame. In 1905 he became conductor of the Monessen Louhi Band, the Conneaut Pohjan Aalto Band in 1906; the Calumet, Michigan Humu Band in 1907; the renowned Red Lodge, Montana, Military Band in 1909. In 1910 he went to Berlin for additional study. In 1911 he conducted the Ishpeming, Michigan band and directed the well-known Calumet, Michigan, Sointu Mixed Chorus; he then traveled widely with carnival bands. In 1915 he once again took over leadership of the Monessen Louhi Band, and reached a peak of great activity as teacher, conductor, and leader of numerous concert tours, including one to New York City in July, 1918, and to Finland in 1920. In 1922 he came to Ashtabula harbor to direct Humina. While greatly strengthening the already famous band, Wahlstrom also became interested in public school music, becoming instructor in the Ashtabula Harbor schools. The Harbor High School Band became in effect the child of Humina. In 1927 the Humina Band made a successful tour of Finland. Among the listeners were the President of the Republic and the composer Jean Sibelius and his wife. At the age of fifty-three, Wahlstrom passed away August 26, 1930. Later a new Wahlstrom Band Room was dedicated in the high school. As the foregoing sketch reveals. Wahlstrom's influence was not merely focused on two great bands, Humina and Louhi, but it spread from New England to Montana. Indeed, his name and his musical organizations were known throughout the immigrant world and in the Old Country as well.
- -Linda Riddell