Five A-W Students Selected to Strong Foundations 6th Grade Honor Band

Posted February 1, 2018 at 6:00 am

By: Damien Ericson

On Monday, January 8, the Strong Foundations 6th Grade Honor Band spent the afternoon practicing “Colliding Visions” by Brian Balmage, “Union March” by Mekel Rogers, and “Ghosts of the Lost Ship” by Tyler S. Grant for a public concert that evening.

The five musicians from Akron-Westfield who were selected to the honor band were Jenna Smith (Trumpet), Emmalee Baker (Clarinet), Conner Wendel (Tenor Sax), Michael Brown (Trombone), and Kasey Nielsen (Tuba).

The Strong Foundations 6th Grade Honor Band is a yearly honor band organized by the directors of Sioux City East Middle School, specifically for 6th graders across Northwest Iowa, Northeast Nebraska, Southeast South Dakota and Southwest Minnesota. According to their website, the purpose of the Strong Foundations Honor Band is to provide an opportunity for young instrumental musicians to have an excellent ensemble experience in a positive, friendly environment without competition or unnecessary stress, while working with outstanding music educators.

This year there were 200 students selected from more than 40 area schools to play in one of two honor bands that are part of the festival. The rehearsal and the evening concert were held at Sioux City East High School.

The guest conductors this year were Linda Johansen, a retired band director from the North Fayette Valley School District, and Denise Graettinger from Waverly-Shell Rock Community Schools. Both districts are in the Northeast part of the state (keep in mind that the directors drove for about 4.5 hours to participate).

After a day of rehearsal, while the students are eating dinner, the band directors from participating schools get together and perform music for the Honor Band attendees during their dinner break. The only rule is that the instructors cannot play their main instrument!

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