Hook ‘Em Hans!

A chance connection in California set in motion the musical tour of a lifetime for euphonium player Alex Mutz


courtesy of Alex Mutz

Hans Kloppert (left) and Alex Mutz (right) pose together at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis during the preliminary rounds of the drum corps international championships in 2018. It was the third year that Mutz, a Texan, would compete internationally with Kloppert’s European drum corps. He also competed with them in 2011 and again in 2015. In 2011, Jubal would go on to place highest out of all of the European drum corps in the competition.

Lucas Walker, Mac photojournalism

The sun burnt into the back of his head as he waited in line for his food. He was in Concord, Calif., 1,700 miles from his home in San Antonio, and Alex Mutz, a third-year veteran and euphonium player with the world-class drum corps The Blue Devils, couldn’t wait for the 2009 season to be over. As he glanced across the horizon, he saw all too many unfamiliar faces, and all too few connections to his home.

Back in America but still nearly 1,000 miles from home and exhausted, Alex performed in the preliminary round of the drum corps world championship in Indianapolis where Jubal placed highest out of all the European corps at the championships.

When he saw the caterer he was waiting in line to get food from wearing a Texas Longhorns shirt; however, he immediately struck up a conversation. As it would turn out, the caterer wasn’t Texan. His name was Hans Kloppert, and he worked as a director for a drum corps in the Netherlands named Jubal. They clicked with each other immediately, and they soon became close friends.

Two years later, , a musician in his early 20s, was invited by Hans to do a music tour through the United States with Jubal, to which he agreed. He flew out to the Netherlands early that year, and when he landed late that night, 5,100 miles from home, he couldn’t wait for the season to start.

While he had difficulties touring in the Netherlands, from a language barrier to housing complications, he had made closer friends there than he ever had doing drum corps in America.

Seven months later, he was back in America, performing in the preliminary round of the drum corps world championship in Indianapolis. He was nearly 1,000 miles from home, and he was exhausted. With Jubal placing highest out of all the European corps, the season had finally ended.

Back home, he met Hans in a restaurant on the San Antonio Riverwalk for lunch, where Alex would make one final realization.

He was finally home, and he couldn’t have been happier.

Editor’s note: The digital media students wrote 300-word stories that emulated the feature profiles written by Brady Dennis for the St. Petersburg Times in the mid-2000s. Shield co-editor in chief Alice Scott prepared a master class on Dennis’ stories for the newspaper staff, and adviser Dave Winter was so impressed with the lesson that he changed his feature profile assignment based on what Scott taught the staff about Dennis’ stories. As a result, we have a collection of wonderful short profiles—including this profile of middle school band director and music instructor Alex Mutz—that are well-crafted, powerful and straight from the heart.