Three Music Ensembles Invited to National Conference

This year's Music Educators National Conference in Kansas City, Mo., might be more appropriately called "The TTU Show!" Three Tennessee Technological University music ensembles have been invited to perform at the conference -- a feat no other university has achieved. In addition, two Tennessee Tech music students will have their original compositions performed at the conference, another highly unusual occurrence among MENC participants.

The pioneering Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble, led by Winston Morris; the Chorale, under the direction of Robert Wright; and the Symphony Band, conducted by Joe Hermann, will perform at the conference Friday and Saturday, April 19--20.

Bruce Lee Cook and Scott Tignor were among those students who submitted original compositions to the MENC judges and will travel to Kansas City to hear their works performed. Cook, a senior music education major, wrote "My Papa's Waltz," a work for voice and piano. Tignor, a 1995 graduate, composed "Enchanted Circus" for marimba quartet.

"This achievement is not only the mark of a distinguished program, but one distinguished in many areas," said Greg Danner, chairperson of the Department of Music and Art. "For us to have these three ensembles accepted is quite an honor. All three have a long history of quality -- as does our composition program -- and this is yet another indication that their quality is of national significance."

The three ensembles will perform "An MENC Preview Concert," a sampling of the works they'll be presenting in Kansas City, at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 11, in Wattenbarger Auditorium.

Morris, professor and founder of the Tuba Ensemble, points out, "We are the only tuba group ever to perform at the MENC's national convention." The group has previously performed at national and regional MENC conventions in New Orleans, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Louisville and Chicago and has given concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Disney World and many other prestigious venues.

Under Wright's direction for the past 14 years, the Chorale has represented the university in annual tours throughout the Southeast and has performed in Germany, Austria, Mexico and England. The ensemble is primarily made up of music students, but it is open to all students and includes engineering and other majors as well as one math professor.

Hermann's direction of the Symphony Band since 1989 has resulted in performances on National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System, as well as state, regional and national events. The band regularly participates in educational reference recordings for music educators that are distributed around the world. The group released its second compact disc, "Jupiter," in 1995.

Performances at the conference are not judged, and students spend much of their time at the meeting participating in clinics and attending presentations given by recognized music experts from around the country. The MENC is a professional association of 65,000 music teachers from all teaching levels, making it the largest arts organization in the world. In its 90-year existence, the group has worked to ensure that all students have access to balanced, comprehensive, quality music instruction programs.

For many of the musicians, getting there will be half the fun. All three groups are scheduled to perform their "MENC Preview Concert" at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville Tuesday, April 16, and at Overton School for the Arts in Memphis Wednesday, April 17. The Chorale will give a concert in St. Louis on Sunday morning after the conference.

Danner notes the department hopes to raise approximately $200 per person to cover the costs of the trip. For more information about performances or contributions, call (615) 372-3161.