Hundreds Participate in Tennessee Tech's Annual Band Festival

When 365 high school students arrived at Tennessee Technological University last month for the Festival of Winds and Percussion Feb. 15-17, the Bryan Fine Arts building overflowed with some of the best young musicians in the region.

The 33rd annual festival brought outstanding students and band directors from 55 high schools in five states to work with Tennessee Tech music faculty and guest directors from universities and academies around the country. After registering, some students sought out a quiet place to practice, while others waited to audition for placement in one of the four bands that would perform Saturday night. Fifteen Cookeville High School students participated in the event.

"This year, we had the best crop of students we've ever had, and the bands have never played better!" said Joe Hermann, who coordinates the event.

"It's a great opportunity for the students to experience the audition process and see how they rate among their peers from around the region. They work with accomplished clinicians, and they work with and hear Tennessee Tech music faculty."

Hermann, professor and band director at Tennessee Tech, says the three-day event not only provides an optimal learning experience for the students and their band directors, but also allows them to learn about all of the programs the university has to offer. In their spare time, some participants audition for university music scholarships and meet with faculty as prospective Tennessee Tech students.

The Tech Symphony Band performance on Feb. 16 showcased the talents of Tennessee Tech music faculty and students. Hermann directed the ensemble in pieces composed by Robert Jager, faculty member, and Greg Danner, department chairperson. Clarinet Professor Dan Hearn performed a solo: the "Concertina for Clarinet" by Frank Bencriscutto.

Each year, Hermann invites colleagues to direct the band in the festival. "It's important that these clinicians are quality teachers as well as musicians," says Hermann. This year, David Waybright, director of bands at the University of Florida in Gainesboro, led the first-ranked band.

Charlie Brodie, band director at the Woodward Academy in College Park, Ga., led the number-two band. "Charlie's an old friend and a great teacher," said Hermann. "Those kids played their brains out for him!"

Dick Mayne, associate director of bands for the University of Northern Colorado, led the third band, while Roger Mills, a graduate student at Tennessee Tech, led the fourth band. Hermann said, "Roger had worked in public schools for five years, and he was outstanding with these kids. In just a few days, his group really developed by leaps and bounds."

Hermann is already planning next year's festival, slated for Feb. 13-15. "It's going to be a great weekend of music!" he says.