The 28th Annual Buena Vista University Honor Band Festival was held on Feb. 21.
Membership to the 100 plus-member middle school band (grades 7 and 8) and the 100 plus-member honor band (grades 9-12) were selected on the basis of nominations submitted by their school band directors. Thirty school districts are participating in this years festival that include schools from Iowa, and Nebraska. Students gathered on the Buena Vista University campus on Saturday for two three-hour rehearsals with the guest conductors. Both bands performed a grand finale concert at Schaller Memorial Chapel on the BVU campus. Guest conductors for the 2009 Honor Band Festival were: Dr. Larry Mitchell for the high school honor band and Barbara Wells for the middle school honor band.
Mitchell is music professor emeritus at The University of South Dakota after have been the Director of Bands there for 32 years. Before coming to USD, Dr. Mitchell taught public school instrumental music, grades 5 through 12 at Rock Valley, (1961-1966). He served as a graduate assistant with the University of Iowa bands (1966-1968). While at Iowa, Dr. Mitchell served as Assistant Director of the University of Iowa Summer Music Camps. In 1968 Dr. Mitchell returned to public school teaching and taught grade 5 and 10-12 instrumental music at Humboldt. During his tenure at USD; Dr. Mitchell served as Director of the USD Marching Coyotes, the USD Jazz Ensembles, the USD Wind Ensemble, and the USD Symphonic Band.
Dr. Mitchell is actively involved in trombone performance with the Sioux City Symphony and the Symphony Brass Quintet. Dr. Mitchell became the conductor of the Sioux City Municipal Band in June of 2003 where he serves as conductor and music director for an eight week summer season. Dr. Mitchell remains active within the quad-state region as an adjudicator, clinician, and guest conductor for honor bands and festivals.
The Middle School Honor Band conductor is Storm Lake Middle Schools' own Barbara Wells. She is currently in her eighth year as a music education teacher in the Storm Lake Community School district, where she teaches woodwind lessons, directs the 5th and 6th grade bands, and assists with the 7th-8th and the high school bands. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa with a degree in music education and clarinet performance. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Barbara is active in Lakeside Presbyterian Church, where she is the organist, director of the Chancel Choir, and director of the PreK-8th grade music program. Barbara is also a member of the Cherokee Symphony. She served the Northwest Iowa Bandmasters Association as president in 1999-2000 and in 2001-2002 and created and maintained the district website for many years. She was the recipient of the NWIBA Karl King Distinguished Service Award- Active in 2004. Wells and her husband Mike, have one son, Ben, a student at the University of Northern Iowa.
Students from the Storm Lake Middle School who were selected for this honor band include Alex Hudspeth- oboe, Juanita Mondragon- Bb clarinet, Shelby Pittenger- Bb clarinet, Kacee Baker- Bb clarinet, Amy Lopez- french horn, Jesse Luedtke- trombone, and Chris Ringgenberg- percussion.