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Friday, Sep. 21, 2012

Overland Park woman brings music to Renaissance Festival

Special to The Olathe News

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Hear the band The Kansas City Renaissance Festival near Bonner Springs opened Labor Day and runs every weekend, rain or shine, through Oct. 14. It’s also open on Columbus Day, Monday Oct. 8. Visit www.kcrenfest.com to learn more.

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Liza Zumbrunnen’s first attempt at learning to play a trumpet ended in just two weeks.

But she didn’t walk away from the instrument for long, and now the Overland Park woman shares her love for music through lessons and a regular gig at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.

A few weeks after Zumbrunnen, then about 11, told her father that she didn’t want him to keep teaching her to play, a band performed for an assembly at her school in Cleveland, Mo. A trumpet was featured on the song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” and hearing it changed Zumbrunnen’s mind.

“I knew right then I wanted to play the trumpet,” she recalled. “I went home and told Dad I was ready to start lessons again.”

Zumbrunnen soon excelled on the trumpet. When she was a student at Cass-Midway high school she played in the school band and a rock and roll band. She won superior ratings in music contests and area festivals. “I loved playing the trumpet. I also taught myself to play the piano and did some song-writing,” she said. “Music was in my genes, I guess.”

Fast forward to the present. Zumbrunnen, now 23, lives in Overland Park and is leading her own band, the Gallic Brass, at the Renaissance Festival for the fourth year. She put together the band, consisting of two trumpets and a trombone, while she was a student at MidAmerica Nazarene University majoring in music education. She also gives private trumpet and piano lessons at Meyer Music Co. in Overland Park.

Zumbrunnen joined a jazz band at MidAmerica Nazarene and became acquainted with Lee Hake, a trombone player. He’s played with a band called the Bristol Brass at the Renaissance Festival several years early, and he liked her idea for the Gallic Brass. The picked up different trumpeters to fill the third spot in the band until Eric Taylor walked up to the stage a last year’s festival and asked to audition.

“Right away he was a good fit and now he’s been with Lee and me two years,” Zumbrunnen said.

th, a Monday.

Hake and Taylor — both from Kansas City — and Zumbrunnen perform four times each Saturday and Sunday afternoon in a wooded area of the fair. They specialize in Gallic and Celtic music, but they also take requests.

“We interact with the audience, play requests, tell stories, inject a little comedy and banter with the crowd. I especially like it when the audience claps and sings along,” Zumbrunnen said. “When we can get together following the Renaissance, we occasionally play other engagements around the Kansas City area, mostly at Irish festivals or events.”

Zumbrunnen grew up in a musical family. Her father, Bob Zumbrunnen, accompanied her on the piano when she played trumpet solos at music contests and festivals. Her mother, Robin Zumbrunnen, is a professional singer and helped her daughter with singing lessons.

During the last year Zumbrunnen has made solo performances at area retirement homes.

“I enjoy doing it. I don’t have to use an Irish dialect there. I interact with the residents, visit and play the songs they want to hear,” she said.

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