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Honor Band weekend ends with full house

By Lyndsay Riggs
On January 30, 2013

Each and every chair was filled and only standing room was available-and barely that. People were lined against the walls. Phones, iPads and cameras could be seen in the air all across the room, videotaping the various performances. The crowd was filled with proud mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and other relatives, ranging in age from small children to grandparents.

The Ballroom in the Boling University Center was overflowing with people this past Saturday afternoon, Jan. 26, as UTM hosted the 34th Annual High School and Junior High School Honor Band Concert. The concert, which began at 1 p.m. Saturday, was the product of two days' hard work of the young students who participated.

The participants were middle and high school students from counties all across West Tennessee, as well as just a few from other parts of the state. These counties included Anderson, Carroll, Chester, Crockett, Davidson, Decatur, Dyer, Gibson, Hardin, Hardeman, Henderson, Henry, Humphreys, Lake, Lauderdale, Madison, McNairy, Obion, Overton, Rutherford, Shelby, Tipton, Wayne and Weakley.

Each participant was recommended by the director of his or her school band for possessing outstanding instrumental talent and was then required to complete an application in order to be considered by the UTM Band Department.

The Honor Band festival began on Thurs., Jan. 24, and students spent a significant amount of time on Thursday evening and on Friday rehearsing and preparing for Saturday's concert.

Susan Waters conducted the first portion of the concert- the Junior High Band. Waters is currently the Director of Bands at Oliver Middle School in Nashville, Tenn. As someone who is of great renown in music education, Waters is often asked to appear as a guest conductor and professional development clinician.

The Junior High Band performed the following pieces: Elliot Del Borgo's "The Coldstream Guards," Lulie Giroux's "The Bonsai Tree," Larry Neeck's "Midnight Escape," Rob Grice's "Pinnacle" and, finally, "Selections from The Lion King," composed by Paul Lavender.

At the end of the performance, Waters mentioned that the students had not been given the music until 7:30, Thursday night, giving them further practice on their sight-reading abilities.

After the Junior High Band performed, Dr. Barry Ellis conducted the Concert Band. Ellis is the Director of Bands and a Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin in Platteville. In addition, Ellis conducts the Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

The Concert Band performed such pieces as Michael Sweeney's arrangement of "Pictures at an Exhibition," Claude T. Smith's "Anthem for Winds and Percussion" and Gary Gilroy's "Onward!"

The third portion of the concert consisted of the Symphonic Band, which was conducted by Dr. Russel Mikkelson. Currently, Mikkelson is the Director of University Bands and a Professor of Music at Ohio State University.

The Symphonic Band performed several pieces, including Frank Ticheli's "An American Elegy and Shenendoah," Charles Carter's "Overture for Winds," Rick Kirby's "Different Voices," Calvin Custer's arrangement of "Just a Closer Walk," Henry Fillmore's "The Footlifter" and "Songs from the Heartland" by Mikkelson, Sze, Galvin, and Roberts.

The final segment of the concert was the Wind Ensemble, conducted by UTM's very own Dr. John Oelrich. Oelrich is the Director of Bands and has been a part of UTM's Music Department since last year.

Oelrich conducted the Wind Ensemble during the following pieces: Frank Ticheli's "Sundance," John Philip Sousa's "Fairest of the Fair," Andrew Boysen's "Fantasy on a Theme by Sousa," John Mackey's "Sheltering Sky" and Gustav Holst's "Second Suit in F."

At the end of each of the performances, each conductor impressed upon the audience how diligently each of the performing students had worked and insistently thanked the UTM Music Department and UTM music students for their help in making the event a success.

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