Hello band alumni, wherever you are! It’s time for my annual State of the Bands report, and I am pleased to say your band program continues to be healthy and happy. Tony will give you the details regarding our return visit to Orlando for the bowl. I’ll just say that I still have a few items of clothing that are soggy. Ah, “sunny” Florida.
In other news, Big Red Express is enjoying an upsurge in membership. Doug Bush has been working closely with our colleagues over in the Athletic Department on some exciting initiatives in anticipation of the move to the new arena. A powerful new recruiting tool will go online this semester, and we hope to have a new course in place next year to enable the drumline to be a regular feature at games. Also listen for some additions to the repertoire, and look for new shirt designs and closer coordination with the Red Zone.
The Campus Bands are up and running for the semester. In addition to a newly designed recruiting campaign thanks to the GTAs, Doug has been experimenting with assessment routines and rehearsal strategies. The combination is working well and these two groups are great assets to our music education program.
This past December, Tony and the Symphonic Band performed the premiere of a dramatic work by Michael Schelle called The End of the World. The piece won second place in the 2012 NBA/Revelli Composition Contest. Following that vivid trajectory, they plan to perform Johann de Meij’s epic Lord of the Rings symphony this spring.
The Wind Ensemble has been exploring methods of improvisation and connection these past few months with some great results. December saw the premiere of Carter Pann’s massive Symphony for Winds: My Brother’s Brain. This semester we’ll play host to composer Lansing McLoskey in a mini-residency, thanks to the Lentz Fund. Our March concert will feature Dr. McLoskey’s What We Do Is Secret, a work for solo brass quintet and band. The UNL Faculty Brass Quintet will join us in what promises to be an amazing concert.
We just finished the Winter Festival for Winds and Percussion. Sixty-six students from thirty-two schools across seven states joined us for a fun and exhausting weekend of music making. The Middle School Band Camp and High School Marching Band Camp are continuing to inspire middle and high school students in their musical development during the summer. As an added bonus, they are also inspiring students to join the ranks of UNL undergraduates which helps to keep the School of Music strong.
Finally, thanks to the wonderful support of the alumni and friends of the band program we have a new scholarship designated for a non-music major in the Marching Band, as well as a new fund to help the drum majors purchase and maintain their maces. An added bonus was some beautiful maces for the trophy case hearkening back to the Cornhusker Band of the 1920s. Thanks to another donor, we were able to completely replace the instruments in the Marching Band’s front ensemble (aka the pit) this past fall. The new set is spectacular and has us dreaming of more projects as resources allow. From mundane but essential items like plumes and raincoats, to more exotic yet essential items like concert vibraphones and a contrabass clarinet, we’re constantly planning for the future.
As always, none of this would be possible without the support and encouragement of the alumni. Our goal continues to be to build upon the strong foundation you set in place. Keep in touch with the BAA, visit the band’s website for updates on events and initiative (www.unl.edu/band/), and Go Big Red!
Carolyn A. Barber
Director of Bands