Knightliters under new direction

John Hakanson, the new director of Knightliters speaks at the Knightliters Jazz Band’s first concert of the year, Autumn Jazz. -Kendall Erenberger/TRUMPET

Wartburg College’s Knightliters Jazz Band in under new direction this year.

Josh Hakanson has taken over as director of the jazz band. The Department of Music sought Hankanson out, and he accepted the offer because he thought it would be a good opportunity to share with students some of the knowledge I have of Jazz ensemble performance, Hankanson said.

Because this is Hakanson’s first semester working with the band, some of the goals have been focused on style, articulation and time feel, Hankanson said. These elements have also been the focus for their concert preparation.

“In addition to the pieces, we have spent some time with full band exercises focused on isolating tuning and articulation issues,” Hankanson said.

Even though Hankanson is new, he has enjoyed the enthusiasm and focus of the band thus far.

“While there is a lot of business to take care of in terms of working on notes and rhythms, it’s not business all the time,” Hankanson said. “The band does occasionally get a taste of my quirky sense of humor.”

The Knightliter’s first concert, Autumn Jazz, was on Nov. 11 in McCaskey Lyceum.

Hickman hoped that the audience would come out to hear a band that had been working hard to improve individually and collectively as musicians. He also hoped the program would showcase a diverse set of pieces that have been challenging and rewarding for the band members.

While Hankanson is helping the band improve and prepare for their concerts, the students are getting to know a new director.

“Having a new conductor is always a challenge,” senior bass player Noah Hickman said. “It’s kinda like being at a four-way stop. You don’t really know what to expect from them and they don’t know what to expect from you. Luckily, I think we are off to a great start to the year.”

Even though there are some differences in teaching style and music style, Hankanson is doing a great job, Hickman said.

“Everyone has been working very hard, in rehearsals and on their own, towards the concert and we are all very excited to perform for a real audience,” Hickman said. “The biggest goal that the band has is to perform well and have fun.”

Hickman said that once he graduates he is going to miss the Knightliters.

“I love having the chance to perform and play bass,” Hickman said. “Throughout my four years here, Knightliters has served as a reprieve from homesickness, busywork, and emotional stress. I will always remember my time as a Knightliter.”

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