Playing with the cream of the crop


Stephen Klaassen rehearses with the Wind Ensemble

Wartburg’s Wind Ensemble saw a perfect acceptance rate of 12 musicians, along with the highest representation from one school at the 2017 Iowa Collegiate Honor Band Festival.

On Saturday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. in Nevada, Iowa, 110 college concert band members; from Hawkeye Community College to the University of Iowa, will gather as one band.

“This band gives students a chance to play with the cream of the crop, playing some of the toughest music,” Dr. Craig Hancock, Director of the Wind Ensemble, said.

The festival is an attempt to try and form a composite band of the best musicians from the state of Iowa,

Hancock said, “The chance for our kids to go do this is phenomenal.”

Percussionist Stephen Klaassen’s is attending the festival for the first time at the state level. In the spring of 2017, he attended the National Honor Band for the first time and hopes to attend the Regional Honor Band in the spring of 2018.

“It’ll be a great experience to share time with others and see how other students go about their musicianship, but also a time to play quality music with other quality musicians,” Klaassen said.

Bass clarinet player Brianna Schares received her first nomination this year. She said she is very excited but has to come prepared.

“Bass clarinets usually stay low and in middle ranges but there was a lot of high stuff so I am kind of worried about that,” Schares said.

Students are nominated by the instructor, and the student has to accept the nomination before it is sent to the committee. Then students are reviewed, and either accepted or denied. Hancock said he has high standards for the kids he nominates.

“There has to be a proven track record of the ability and then they have to be interested,” Hancock said, “I’m not going to twist their arms.”

He went on to add that the festival is a good indicator of where the music program is at.

“If our best can go and play with the rest of the best then evidently were doing pretty good. It’s a reinforcement that we’re doing the right things here,” Hancock said.

Some music directors won’t pick difficult music in other programs, Hancock said. This gives students a chance to play difficult pieces and display their true potential.

At the festival, the students have another selection process to decide what chair they will be sitting in.

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