Lawrence ensembles play at Wisconsin music conference

Dorothy Wickens

The Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble and Wind Ensemble performed at the 2005 Wisconsin State Music Educators Association conference in Madison this week. The Jazz Ensemble performed Wednesday evening and again Thursday morning. These performances were followed by the Wind Ensemble, which played four pieces on Friday. Both ensembles were admitted to the conference after sending in applications and recordings last spring.
LUJE, led by jazz studies director Fred Sturm, played 20 tunes during their two performances. All of the numbers were by Wisconsin writers, including five current university jazz educators and three of the greatest Wisconsin jazz stars. “Because the LUJE convention proposal showcases homegrown Wisconsin compositions, we were granted the great luxury of presenting two separate convention programs,” said Sturm, who returned to Lawrence in 2002 after an 11-year absence.
The Wind Ensemble, directed by assistant professor Andrew Mast, performed four pieces on Friday, which they also played at their Lawrence concert Saturday. Mast, who is in his second year at Lawrence, says that when he is picking music for a concert, he likes to pick something that is rewarding for everybody. He chose the third song in the ensemble’s set, Peter Graham’s Harrison’s Dream, because it is “fun and challenging for the players, and interesting for the audience to listen to.” Another work the ensemble performed, the Percy Grainger work “My Robin Is to the Greenwood Gone,” was chosen for its strong Lawrence background; it was arranged by Sturm and dedicated to a former Lawrence Conservatory professor, Fred Schroeder.
This week’s nationally recognized conference was well attended by music directors and educators from all over the state, as well as by 15 to 20 ensembles. “The WSMC concert audiences are comprised solely of … music educators from throughout the state,” said Sturm, “providing our student performers with one of the most sophisticated listening audiences they have during their time at Lawrence,” says Sturm. “Having both the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble showcased is a great honor for Lawrence, for the conference is the highest profile event of its kind each year.”
Not only were the directors excited for their performances, but the student players were as well. Katie Buchanan, a sophomore flutist and council member for the Wind Ensemble, said, “I personally am excited to go to the conference because I feel it’s an excellent opportunity to put the Lawrence Conservatory out to the greater community for all to hear and enjoy.”
In addition to concerts, there were also a variety of music-related sessions and events for music educators to attend. No doubt it was an interesting and exciting event for all who played and attended.