Get to know the man on the box: Andy Mast

Paul Karner

This Sunday the Lawrence Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band will give their first concert of the year under the direction of Andrew Mast. Mast is among the few new faces of the conservatory faculty, will be serving as conductor for the two wind bands, and as a professor of conducting and music education. Mast grew up in Mason City Iowa, a city made popular by Meredith Wilson’s musical “The Music Man,” and was introduced to wind band music early on. After quitting his first instrument, the cello, Mast began playing tuba in 7th grade and continued studying music throughout school. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education degree and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from University of Iowa, as well as a Master of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota. Before coming to Lawrence, Mast conducted the Quad City Wind Ensemble and founded the Quad City Area Youth Wind Symphony. He was most recently working as the Director of Bands at St. Ambrose University and as a member of the conducting faculty at the Interlochen Arts Camp.

Hiring Andrew Mast is no small transition for the music program, as he will be only the third Director of Bands at Lawrence over the past thirty years. He is excited for the potential the Lawrence wind players have, and he is thoroughly impressed with how “the students and faculty make [Lawrence] an extremely vibrant and stimulating atmosphere.”

Mast is looking to expand people’s concept of wind band music. Due to the relatively young life of the wind band, many of the great composers of earlier centuries didn’t compose for such ensembles. Mast states however that “the wind band world has become an exciting incubator for new music and living composers,” and thus the combined sounds of woodwind, brass, and percussion are constantly being expanded and stretched in new directions. Ultimately, Mast hopes to turn more people on to the sounds of this often underrated music medium, and give wind ensemble and symphonic band a voice that is as powerful and gripping as any other large ensemble.

“We, as musicians, need to build more bridges and fewer walls,” Mast says. “That has not always been the case in the past.” Perhaps this Sunday will mark the beginning of a new direction for the wind ensemble and symphonic band, and maybe in a couple of years the band concerts will become just as much a staple of the music at Lawrence as the orchestra concerts or choir extravaganzas.

So, for all those who have never seen a wind ensemble beyond their high school pep band, or even for those wind enthusiasts, this Sunday’s concert is not one to miss. The Lawrence University Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band performs this Sunday, Oct 31 at 3:00 p.m. in the Chapel. The program will include works by Jenkins, Boysen, Arnold/Paynter, Rorem, Whitacre, and Dahl.