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Westminster College Music Department and Students to Display Talent throughout Spring Semester

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - The Westminster College Department of Music and its students will be participating in two honors festivals in the upcoming weeks. It has been a busy month for the department as students and staff have already participated in various conferences and traveled across the region during March.

Eleven students will be performing with the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Honors Band March 15-17 at Mansfield University. The Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Honors Band has the longest history of any collegiate honors band. Musicians are selected from colleges and universities from across the state for two days of intense rehearsals followed by a concert Sunday, March 17, at 2:30 p.m.

Westminster College has hosted this prestigious event on four occasions. Other than this year's host university, Westminster has the largest single group of musicians in the event.

Three students have been selected to perform in the College Band Directors National Association's (CBDNA) Intercollegiate Honors Band March 19-23 at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. The ensemble will be conducted by Dr. Craig Kirchhoff from the University of Minnesota.

Since the ensemble was formed approximately 10 years ago, Westminster students have been honored participants. The ensemble is chosen biannually, as the CBDNA Conference rotates between a national and regional event. Westminster students have attended at the University of Texas numerous times, North Texas University, and the University of Minnesota.

"It is an amazing experience for our students and they have auditioned and placed very highly in the ensemble," said Dr. R. Tad Greig, associate professor of music and chair of the department. "We are extremely proud of the quality of the instrumentalists that we have at Westminster. They continue to receive state and national accolades for their talents and abilities."

The Westminster College Wind Ensemble has again earned a performance at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) State Conference on April 19 at 9:15 a.m. in the new Bayfront Convention Center in Erie. To be selected, the ensemble and their director submitted a live concert recording to be evaluated by a panel of judges at the PMEA leadership conference in July 2012.  This is the third time that the Wind Ensemble has achieved this distinction. Collegiate ensembles are not categorized by university or collegiate enrollment.  All audition recordings submitted have no markings that would identify the ensemble.  Westminster College's Wind Ensemble was the only collegiate wind ensemble selected for this event. 

"I continue to be impressed by the quality and desire possessed by our musicians," stated Greig, who not only conducts the ensemble, but developed the group in 1997. 

The PMEA Large Ensemble Assessment Festival was held at Westminster College March 6 in Orr Auditorium. This is the 17th year in a row Westminster has hosted the event and is one of the longest running festivals of its type in Pennsylvania, started by Greig in 1995. This year, for the first time, the band officers and other students instrumentalists were in charge of the event.

Ten ensembles from junior and senior high orchestras and bands performed for a panel of judges. The judges evaluated the performances based upon specific criteria and provided a rating. Additionally, each ensemble had to sight read (perform a piece of music they only had two minutes to exam and discuss with their director).

"As our current educational system seems to be very much based on assessment, meaning numbers that are representative of learning, we in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association decided we could transfer our adjudication ratings to numbers and ratings that have an assessment value. We hope directors can then share these with their administrators as a model of assessment in music," Greig said.

Greig flew to Brooklyn, N.Y., during the first week of March to work with the Brooklyn Wind Ensemble as they prepared to audition for a performance opportunity at the Mid-West International Instrumental Conference in Chicago.  The Brooklyn Wind Ensemble is an ensemble formed from professional instrumentalists from the metropolitan New York area. In preparation for the trip Greig studied the scores of music being performed so that he could critique the musical interpretation. Greig was invited to Brooklyn by Dr. Jeffrey Ball, artistic director and conductor of the ensemble.

While in Brooklyn, Greig also worked with music students in the Brooklyn School District by attending various school band rehearsals and providing support and motivation for the students to continue in the pursuit of the arts.

The Department of Music seeks to provide professional training to talented students who pursue careers as performers, teachers, church musicians, and scholars, and to offer experiences in music to all persons of the College and community, thereby enriching cultural backgrounds and developing musical skills. The department annually hosts the District Five Honors Chorus, Honors Band and the Assessment Festival. Between the three events, the College brings close to 1000 students to campus.

Visit www.westminster.edu/culture for information about upcoming events.  

Contact Greig at (724) 946-7279 or email for additional information. 

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster is a top-tier liberal arts college and a national leader in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 377 Colleges" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 41 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.

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Westminster College music students prepare to perform in honors festivals. Back Row (l-r): Kyle Grabigel, Haley Hidock, Cody Ortz, Kelsey Steele, Devin Greig Second Row on Right (l-r): John Stumpff, Jennifer Peet, Lauren Clauser Front Row (l-r): Sarah Haylett, Emily Raines, Catherine Griffith