Joel Kolk joined the then Ridgewood Concert Band as a bass clarinetist in 1989. He is a native New Yorker, educated in the NYC public schools and who returned to these schools decades later as a teacher of instrumental music. His musical career began at the age of eleven when he received his first saxophone lesson. He was in the seventh grade when the U.S, entered WW2, which opened many opportunities for young musicians. Mr. Kolk and his friends found steady employment in the Catskill resort hotels. They played for the guests’ entertainment and dancing, and accompanied the professional entertainers who arrived on weekends.
Mr. Kolk was a senior in high school when the war ended in 1945, but the draft was still on, and he was inducted shortly after graduation. From 1946-47, he served in the 314th U.S. Army Band, which was formed at the war’s end to replace the Glenn Miller Band. Its primary function was to entertain the American military in Europe via a weekly radio broadcast. By 1947, a general demobilization was underway, and Mr. Kolk returned to civilian life early that year.
Mr. Kolk went on to graduate from the University of Michigan, Teachers College, and Queens College. At Michigan, Mr. Kolk majored in theory and became a student of Albert Luconi, a former principal clarinetist of the Detroit Symphony. In New York, he continued studies with Dave Weber who hailed from Detroit and had been a Luconi student in his youth. Mr. Kolk has been a member of the Queens College Orchestral Society, the New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble, and has performed with a number of bands and orchestras in the metropolitan area.
He regards his tenure in the NJWS as a journey back in time to his undergraduate days in Ann Arbor and the fun of making music with his peers. He is grateful to Chris and the NJWS membership for making it possible.