2014 Spring Conference

Originally posted on 4/18/14

Every year at Western Michigan University, the music program hosts a large music conference. The conference lasts all day and includes performances from guest high school bands, faculty ensembles, and an honors band. There is also a prominent guest composer present each year. In the past, composers such as Ticheli, Whitacre, Holsinger and Hazo have been the guest composer. This year it was my favorite modern composer John Mackey.

When I first heard about it, I was so excited to go, mostly because John Mackey would be there. The university symphonic band was going to play one of Mackey’s newest works, The Frozen Cathedral. No way was I going to pass up an opportunity to play in a great honors band and meet Mackey.

I sent in an audition CD. I played the first movement from Lunde’s saxophone sonata. It is a beautiful piece, but it is not well known. It was composed during the same time period as the famous saxophone sonata by Creston, and so it was neglected because the Creston was thought to be better. Anyway, I was lucky enough to get first chair!


Me and John Mackey shortly before the concert.
    In between honors bands rehearsals, guest high school bands performed. Several of Mackey’s pieces were played. The pieces I heard were (Redacted), Night on Fire, and The Ringmaster’s March.The final concert was the one I was looking foward to. The WMU Symphonic Band played The Frozen Cathedral, and it was beautiful. I think I have a new favorite band piece. After intermission, the honors band played (we were called the John Mackey All-Star Band). We played a Filmore march and then Mackey’s Strange Humors.In Strange Humors, I was asked to play soprano saxophone because I was first chair. I accepted and really enjoyed my part. It was interesting bouncing back and forth between soprano and alto sax. It was a pain to carry around both cases and a garment bag

Best Mackey quote of the night: “You guys are really good, damn.”

Dr. Boerma, WMU’s director of bands, conducted the final concert of the evening.

During the concert, Dr, Boerma asked the first chair players to stand and be recognized.

It was an amazing day. I got home at about 11:30 and I had to get up early the next day for Quiz Bowl state championships. Good times.

Special thanks to my mother and my band director for taking these photos.

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