Christian Kremser is at the conductor’s stand, keeping time, rocking back and forth and waving an imaginary baton. Kremser conducts the company band, which rehearses here twice each week. While most of his musicians are current or former WACKER employees, the band also includes a few non-employees for extra support.
The Burghausen brass band has been a tradition since 1935, when it began with 35 musicians under the direction of Alfred Posch. Today, Christan Kremser conducts 69 musicians who play everything that a symphonic brass ensemble needs, from flutes to tubas. Whereas 48-year-old Kremser is a full-time professional musician, music is a hobby for members of the ensemble – their level of playing is anything but amateurish, however. At the moment, for instance, the musicians are rehearsing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture for their traditional spring concert. The ensemble has performed on television, tours regularly and has even appeared before the Pope.
Kremser dedicates about 200 work days each year to music. In addition to rehearsals with orchestras, big bands or smaller ensembles, a major portion of his work involves going to funerals – every employee at the main plant is entitled to have the company band play at their funeral service. That means that Kremser and a few musicians are often on the road several times a week, accompanying mourners to the cemetery rain or shine. He has composed three hymns specifically for these occasions.
When Christian Kremser is not rehearsing or performing, he sits in his office in a small, old building that once served as the plant mail room. Binders with musical scores are piled up on his desk, and he has a keyboard set up in an alcove where he works out arrangements and compositions. Pop, jazz, classical, brass – he has an extensive repertoire.
When he was a little boy, Kremser took clarinet lessons from Franz Stangl, who conducted the band at the time. “I would just walk right into the plant after school, which would be inconceivable now,” says Kremser with a grin. Afterwards, he continues, he would do his homework in his father’s Employee Council office and then go home on the plant bus. Although he completed an apprenticeship as a machinist at WACKER when he finished school, music was his passion. He played in the German Army Music Corps, studied in Linz, Austria, and worked as a music teacher. Kremser then began conducting the WACKER brass band in 1999, bringing his career full circle.