Young Coulee Region musicians will be well-represented at the 34th annual National Band Association-Wisconsin Chapter’s Convention.
Three of the four featured groups performing are Holmen High School’s Wind Ensemble, the West Salem High School’s Wind Symphony band and the Lincoln Middle School Symphonic Band. This year, the NBA-WC convention is being held in the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Haas Fine Arts Center on Jan. 18 to Jan. 20.
West Salem’s High School Wind Symphony will perform a concert at the convention Friday, Jan. 19. The 54-member band is made up of students in grades freshman to senior. Their band directors are David Kies and Kelli Martin.
“For the Wind Symphony, this is our third time being chosen as a featured band at the NBA-WC Convention, and we are so thrilled for this honor,” said Martin.
In addition, members of the West Salem High School Band have been selected to play as part of the NBA All-State Band. The student musicians are Danielle Miller (French horn), Abigail Richardson (alto sax) and Abigail Sharp (tuba).
“Membership in the band signifies a level of achievement which places these student musicians in the top percentile among all student musicians in our state,” said Martin.
The All-State Band will perform both Friday and Saturday of the convention and will be directed by Brian Balmages. Balmages is an award-winning composer, conductor, producer and performer. His compositions have been performed worldwide and his appearances as a guest conductor include many All State bands.
The Holmen High School 56-member Wind Ensemble will play one of Balmages compositions at Saturday morning’s concert. Other composers selected for the concert include Quincy Hilliard, Herbert L. Clarke, Johann Hannsen, Gordon Jacob, Alfred Reed and Carolyn Bremer.
According to Michelle Jensen, Holmen High School Band director, Bremer is a somewhat unique in the field of music composition because of her gender and use of a sports motif in her music.
“Female composers are an under-represented group,” said Jensen. “She’s a baseball fan, and her music celebrates the three baseball players, Tinker, Evers and Chance, who mastered the graceful art of the double play.”
The West Salem group will be performing six pieces by modern composers such as Kimberly Archer, Mike Forbes and Lewis Schmidt. Schmidt’s composition has a special significance for Martin.
“We are ending our concert with the American Club March, written by Lewis Schmidt, my college band director,” said Martin. “Dr. Schmidt and his wife were killed in a car accident in November 2016. So, conducting this piece at the convention is a great honor for me and a wonderful tribute to him.”
Bands interested in performing at the convention apply by submitting information about the band, a list of their concerts and recordings of their performances. The wind bands are formed after the marching band season ends with students auditioning for seats in the wind bands.
“In West Salem, we have the concert band and wind symphony,” said Martin. “Wind symphony tends to be made up of older students, though this year we have nine freshmen playing in our wind symphony.”
The NBA sponsors professional development events, an annual state conference and honor bands at the middle school, high school and university levels.