School Spotlight, MMEA edition: Symphonic Band

by Claire Philpott, Minnesota Public Radio
February 18, 2014
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St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesota has one of the oldest and most substantial All-State ensemble programs in the country. Since 1944, Minnesota Music Educators Association has been developing the finest musicians and leaders among Minnesota's most accomplished high school students. As a special week-long MMEA edition of School Spotlight, Classical MPR is broadcasting and streaming highlights from the MMEA All-State ensembles, recorded in August 2013.

Tune in at 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on February 18: Symphonic Band, under the direction of James Spinazzola of Cornell University.

As an institution, MMEA works to ensure high-quality music education for every student in Minnesota. This is achieved through professional development for music educators, advocacy for music and the arts in schools and festivals and honors ensembles for students in school music programs. The All-State ensembles give high school students the chance to experience a formal audition and an intensive music experience in the form of camp in August and then performances in August and February at MMEA conventions.

Notable leaders of past MMEA all-state ensembles include Antal Dorati, Weston Noble, Dale Warland, Miles ("Mity") Johnson, Paul Christiansen, Frank Bencriscutto, Henry Charles Smith and others.

The selection process:

School music teachers or private teachers first nominate a student. Judges travel to 18 locations around the state to hear auditions of solos, études, scales, sight-reading and other skills. Finally, MMEA leadership comes together on "Draft Day" to select student musicians.

Selected students attend a week-long summer camp, during which they rehearse in their respective ensembles. Experts on each instrument or voice type work with students in sectionals, and provide individual instruction on advanced methods. Included in the camp, MMEA provides seminars for students on topics from music careers to college admissions and auditions and music in adult life.

These recordings represent the best of our Minnesota school music programs. Listen for yourself and find out what amazing talent these students bring to this performance.

Tune-in all week at 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. for new performances from the All-State ensembles.

Monday, Feb. 17: Orchestra, under the direction of Gary Lewis of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

  • 7:30 a.m.: Arturo Márquez — Danzón No. 2
  • 7:30 p.m.: Arturo Márquez — Danzón No. 2

Tuesday, Feb. 18: Symphonic Band, under the direction of James Spinazzola of Cornell Unversity.

  • 7:30 a.m.: Robert Jager — Esprit de Corps
  • 7:30 p.m.: Thomas Doss — Romanian Overture

Wednesday, Feb. 19: Women's Choir and Men's Choir, respectively under the direction of Sandra Peter of Stetson University and Lee Nelson of Wartburg College.

  • 7:30 a.m.: Antonio Vivaldi — Gratias agimus tibi/Propter magnam gloriam (Women)
  • 7:30 a.m.: Rosephanye Powell arr. William Powell — The Word was God (Men)

  • 7:30 p.m.: Connor Koppin — Jesu dulcis memoria (Men)
  • 7:30 p.m.: Spanish folk song arr. Joni Jensen — El Vito (Women)

Thursday, Feb. 20: Concert Band, under the direction of Captain Michelle Rakers of "The President's Own" United States Marine Band.

  • 7:30 a.m.: John Philip Sousa — Semper Fidelis
  • 7:30 p.m.: Ron Nelson — Lauds

Friday, Feb. 21: Mixed Choir, under the direction of Jo-Michael Scheibe of University of California, Thornton School of Music.

  • 7:30 a.m.: Andreas Hakenberger, edited by A. Dennis Sparger — Exultate Justi in Domino
  • 7:30 p.m.: Craig Carnahan — Everyone Sang (An American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota and MMEA commission premiere)

On Now

Listen to the Stream
  • Prelude and Fugue No. 23 in F 8:18 Dmitri Shostakovich
    Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano
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  • Violin Concerto 7:46 Jean Sibelius
    Philharmonia Orchestra
    Giuseppe Sinopoli
    Gil Shaham, violin
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