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Eight-part harmony

Eight-part harmony

Show Me Conference Band Day turns 8 high school bands into one orchestra

January 20th, 2018 by Allen Fennewald in Local News

Central Methodist University Director of Bands Roy Vandelicht leads the Show Me Conference Concert Band on Jan. 18 at Russellville High School.

Photo by Allen Fennewald /News Tribune.

More than 100 instruments filled the Russellville High School gymnasium with a cacophony of random notes as students warmed up for rehearsal. As clinic conductor Roy Vandelicht spread his hands over the orchestra of high schoolers, the chaotic mixture of notes blended into one harmonious B-flat major chord.

Thus was the spirit of Show Me Conference Band Day, an annual event that brought together members of eight high school bands Thursday at Russellville High School.

Students from Russellville, Linn, Eugene, St. Elizabeth, South Callaway, New Bloomfield, Chamois and Fatima formed one large ensemble ready to perform after only a single morning of rehearsal.

The area musicians got to play, learn and make new friends under the direction of two highly respected teachers. Some of the school bands have limited instrumentation, and the directors said it was beneficial to perform in a large, well-balanced ensemble.

"It's been a real pleasure to work with these young ladies and gentlemen," Vandelicht said. "They worked really, really hard. I've been extremely impressed with their attention that they've given and their ability to make adjustments. It's not easy to walk into a band and play under a conductor that you're not used to every day."

Vandelicht said these clinics are great opportunities to bring students from different schools together in cooperation, not competition.

"We are all winners today because we are all on the same team, and it's really fun for these kids to get together and play with students from other schools," he said.

The percussion ensemble was under the tutelage of David Gronneberg, director of percussion for the Grain Valley School District. Vandelicht, Central Methodist University's associate professor of music and director of bands, was tasked with preparing the concert band and conducting the final performance.

The percussion ensemble played "Escape From Pirate Cove" by Jeremy Kane and "Alarm!" by Brian Blume. The concert band performed "The Falling Rain" by James Swearingen, "High Voltage" by Randall Standridge, "Hosts of Freedom" by Karl King, and "Monmouth Overture" by Michael Sweeney.

Cole R-1

Russellville High School has hosted Band Day for the past two years. Band director Nathan Gargus, a former drum student of Gronneberg, said months of planning went into organizing the event.

There are 23 members in Russellville's high school band, and it is expected to nearly double in size within the next few years.

Gargus said he hoped his students walked away from the clinic with a lesson that sticks with them.

"As times go by, maybe something that I or another teacher says will click with them, and they'll flash back to this day and remember what they need to do," he said.

Cole R-5 (Eugene)

Eugene High School delivered five high school musicians to the clinic out of a band of 23 students from grades 7-12.

Band director Casey McDonald is one of Vandelicht's former students.

"Because the band director who is doing the clinic is my past band director, I hope that they can kind of pick up where I got some of my influences and see a difference in their playing from the beginning of the day to when we put on the concert," McDonald said.

McDonald said she will be especially concerned with how her students progress on marching music.

South Callaway R-2

South Callaway High School brought a clarinet and flute-heavy group of 30 musicians.

Band director Hannah Hauser wanted her students to focus on learning how to fit in with a larger group of musicians.

"I think that when they come to these big events like this, they learn a lot just from being with other bands and learning to blend with the kids around them," Hauser said.

Osage County R-1 (Chamois)

Chamois High School added four musicians to the orchestra. Band director Keith Slater said he was glad his group had the opportunity to play with a much larger band with a bigger sound than his 15 high school band members can emit.

"The key thing is that hopefully they will get the idea of some bigger ideas, bigger concepts that we don't have time to go over in our smaller band and get the opportunity to experience those things in this large ensemble," Slater said.

Slater said he also wanted his students to focus on maintaining a balanced tone.

Osage County R-2 (Linn)

Linn High School added 17 of its 19 band members to the conference ensemble. The group was heavy in woodwinds and thankful to have the opportunity to team up with a large brass section.

"We don't have any tuba players here today, so my kids are hearing a tuba section, some of them for the first time," band director Nicole Ulmer said.

Ulmer wanted her students to focus on acting professionally and being aware of how their individual instruments fit into the whole ensemble's sound.

Osage County R-3 (Fatima)

Fatima had 12 of the 19 high school band members participating in the concert.

Band director Dan Chisham said he wanted his students to improve on sight-reading compositions. He also picked up some new warm-up methods from Vandelicht.

Chisham said it was a great benefit for his students to work together with musicians from other schools to create a unified sound.

"I think this is a good experience for them to be able to come together and make a new friend or two in the process," he said.

New Bloomfield R-3

Band director Susan Meier brought 14 of New Bloomfield's 31 band members to the concert.

She said her students benefited from performing under a new director and playing in a large group with challenging music. Her students worked with Vandelicht on intonation and crescendos.

"I thought it was really a good group this year," Meier said.

St. Elizabeth R-4

Band director Eric Veile brought all seven of St. Elizabeth's high school band members. Everyone else in the clinic was thankful St. Elizabeth provided much of the conference band's low brass section with its three trombones, tuba and bass in the mix.

Veile said the best aspect of the clinic was performing in a large group.

"You experience things differently and hear different parts that they don't (usually) hear," he said. "When we play with our small group, they can't hide, but they also don't get to practice technique without worrying about sticking out."

Veile said he thought everyone did a good job at the clinic, and he was glad his students had the opportunity to meet musicians from different schools.