Ninety-five student musicians from 30 area high schools have been selected to participate in the eighth annual UW–Platteville Tri-State Honors Band Festival.
The festival, organized by Dr. Barry Ellis and Matthew Gregg, UW–Platteville director of bands and associate director of bands respectively, includes clinics and master classes led by guest conductors and UW-Platteville music faculty, and free concerts on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15–16.
This year’s guest conductor is Robert Sheldon, a nationally known musician, conductor, composer and clinician. He received his degrees through the University of Miami and the University of Florida. Sheldon taught in Florida and Illinois public schools for 28 years and also at the University of Florida, Florida State University, Illinois Central College and Bradley University. Sheldon is the concert band editor for Alfred Music Publishing and maintains memberships in several organizations that promote music and music education.
This is the third year in a row that the guest conductor has also been a composer.
“It’s enlightening for all of us, and students for sure,” said Ellis of the composer/conductor combination. “Not only do our UW–Platteville music students and guest high school students experience an outstanding musician and educator, but they also get the opportunity to perform the composer’s music with him as conductor. Many times there are students, musicians and conductors who never have the opportunity to play under a composer conducting his own composition, so this is a special experience and adds a uniqueness to our festival.”
Friday’s concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Richard and Helen Brodbeck Concert Hall. The UW–Platteville Symphonic Wind Ensemble, which will be directed by Ellis and Gregg, will play a number of pieces by Sheldon. They’ll also accompany Allen Cordingley, UW–Platteville music lecturer, on an exciting, virtuosic piece by composer John Mackey as Cordingley performs the solo on soprano saxophone.
The Jazz 1 ensemble, directed by Cordingley, will close the evening with a performance of several big band standards, including Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” with Dr. David Cooper, associate music professor and chair of the UW–Platteville Department of Performing and Visual Arts, on trumpet.
Saturday’s concert begins at 4 p.m. in the Brodbeck Concert Hall and features Sheldon directing the students in the Tri-State Honors Festival Band in many of his own works as they showcase what they’ve learned following two-days of rehearsals in sectional and masters classes. Ellis said it should be a great musical experience, with selections that the audience will enjoy as much as the students.
For more information, access www.uwplatt.edu/music/honorsbandinfo/index.html.