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Music News 2018-2019

SMSU Professor Presents at Tennessee Music Educators Conference  (4/16/2019)

 Despite the mid-April blizzard, SMSU Director of Bands, Dr. John Ginocchio, managed to make it to Nashville, Tennessee to present at the TnMEA Conference held at the Opryland Resort.  The session, "Unhelpful Conducting Habits Learned from 'Helping' Students," is one that Dr. Ginocchio has previously presented at several state and national conferences.  According to Dr. Ginocchio, "conducting is a complex skill that requires a clear knowledge of the music performed and the capabilities of the ensemble.  Often directors begin to mix aspects of music instruction and classroom management into their conducting.  While this may seem efficient in the moment, in the long-term it often diminishes our effectiveness as conductors and educators."  The session focuses on specific "habits" commonly found among conductors at all levels.  More importantly, participants in the session discuss the situations from which these habits often arise and talk about how these habits can hinder the education of the ensemble as opposed to helping.  Dr. Ginocchio believes that if conductors can understand why they do certain things on the podium and understand alternatives to dealing with those instructional and musical challenges, they can learn how to become better educators and conductors.

Denis DiBlasio Performs with the SMSU Jazz Ensemble  (3/28/2019)

DiBlasio rehearses with the SMSU Jazz EnsembleThe SMSU Jazz Ensemble had the great pleasure to host, jazz great, Denis DiBlasio as their guest artist from March 24th to the 26th.  Denis DiBlasio is a baritone sax and flute player who previously played with legendary trumpet player, Maynard Ferguson.  He is currently the Director of Jazz Studies at Rowan University in New Jersey, but he regularly performs and does clinics throughout the world.

The SMSU Band program initiated their Guest Artist Series in 2007, and since that time 28 guest artists have visited campus to do clinics and performances with SMSU Bands and area high school bands.  The Guest Artist Series is supported yearly by a grant from U.S. Bank, and the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council also supported Mr. DiBlasio's residency (and previous visits) through an Arts in the Schools Grant.

DiBlasio performing with SMSU Jazz EnsembleWhile in Marshall, DiBlasio rehearsed and worked with the SMSU Jazz Ensemble and gave lessons to several students, sharing his talents and experience.  In addition, he did clinics with the high school and junior high jazz bands in Minneota, MN and with the two high school jazz bands in Marshall.  Concerts featuring these high school bands and the SMSU Jazz Ensemble with DiBlasio were presented on Monday, March 25th in Minneota and on the 26th at the Marshall Middle School Auditorium.

SMSU Music Program at the MMEA Midwinter Inservice  (2/18/2019)

Jack Elbert playing with the Minnesota Intercollegiate Honor BandFebruary 14-16, music educators from all over the state will gathered at the Minneapolis Convention Center for the year’s largest professional development conference, the MMEA Midwinter In-Service.  The conference is coordinated by the Minnesota Music Educators Association.  It includes performances by some of the finest ensembles from schools around the state; educational sessions by experts in the field of music education; and an exhibit hall where universities, performing organizations, and a variety of music related businesses share information with attendees.  For the past thirteen years, the SMSU Music Program has brought students to this event in order to expose them to this important educational resource and the larger world of music in the state of Minnesota.  Students attended clinics and concerts and helped with the SMSU Exhibit.  This activity is supported each year by the SMSU Foundation.

In addition to attending the workshop, Director of Choral Activities, Dr. Stephen Kingsbury and the members of the SMSU Chorale presented a session at the conference entitled "Resisting the Tyranny of the Barline," shared methods by which choral conductors can analyze the melodic content of Renaissance music to present thoughtful performances of this music. 

SMSU Music Education major, Jack Elbert also participated in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Honor Band which met during the conference.  The ensemble included some of the best college musicians from around the state.  Jack was nominated by his band director and was selected from hundreds of nominees.  The band met for ten hours of rehearsals on February 14th and 15th and presented their concert on Saturday, February 16th as one of the closing day events for the conference.  This year the band was conducted by Colonel Timothy J. Holtan, retired commander of The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own."

SMSU "Festival of Woodwinds" Draws Musicians of All Ages  (2/4/2019)

Immanuel Davis with festival participantsThe first "Festival of Woodwinds" at SMSU was very well received by musicians throughout the region.  Approximately 30 woodwinds from around Southwest Minnesota attended the day long celebration of woodwind performance.  Participants included middle school and high school students, band directors, college students, and amateur community musicians.  Though the participants varied in age and experience, they all shared the opportunity to learn more about the art form and to perform with other musicians.

The Festival of Woodwinds featured, guest flutist, Immanuel Davis.  Davis is a professor of flute performance at the University of Minnesota.  He has performed and shared clinics throughout the world.  He has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, to name only a few.  He has also release three solo CDs.

The day included a recital and masterclass by Immanuel Davis as well as several hours of rehearsals performing woodwind choir music.  The day ended with a Finale Concert featuring all the participants performing the woodwind choir music and another piece performed by the guest artist.

Director of Bands, Dr. John Ginocchio, was thrilled with the success of the event and plans to offer similar festivals in the future including the return of "Brass-a-palooza" in February of 2020.

The Music Program Heats Things Up for Homecoming (10/8/2018)

Hojazz ensemble performing at the University Galamecoming weekend was a bit colder than usual, but the students of the Music Program contributed to the warm and welcoming environment of the weekend.  Homecoming is a busy time around campus, and the bands and choirs were involved in many of the weekend's activities, starting with the University Gala.  The SMSU Jazz Ensemble and the SMSU Chorale are an important part of the biggest scholarship fundraiser on campus each year, providing entertainment during the social hour.  Several band and choir members also assist with other aspects of the Gala including decorating and serving food to the guests.

Chorale in the Homecoming ParadeThe next day, both the Chorale and the Mustang Pep Band were part of the Homecoming Parade.  Later at the football game, the Chorale performed the National Anthem for the game while the Pep Band provided music throughout the game as well as playing several pieces by "Queen" during the halftime show.

Singfest 2018 (9/13/2018)

The SMSU Music Program is pleased to announce SingFest 2018.  SingFest was started several years ago as an opportunity for area schools to come to the SMSU campus for an exciting day of large-group singing.  Because most of the mass-choir experiences in our state occur in locations that put them at quite a distance from our region, and allow limited participation from a given school, SingFest was started as a venue for area schools to provide a massed choir experience for all of their students.  Over the last five years this event has been a wonderful success, bringing together several hundred area students for a day of shared music-making.  This is an event that both area high school students and current SMSU music students look forward to every year.  According to Samantha Hotzler, a third-year music major “Singfest is a great opportunity for students from different areas really get to know how awesome choir is and how much fun you can have with singing and learning.”  This is a thought that is echoed by fourth-year music education major, Illana Peter. “SingFest is one of my favorite events from our choral year. It’s a great opportunity for high school students to experience a whole day filled with music.  SingFest is about coming together as musicians, learning together, and making beautiful music and I enjoy every second of it.”

This year’s event will take place on Monday, October 8, in the Fine Arts Building on the SMSU Campus.  The day will include massed choir rehearsals led by SMSU’s Director of Choral Activities, Dr. Stephen Kingsbury, and sectionals that will be led by the SMSU Choirs’ section-leaders.  The day’s activities will culminate in a brief recording session of the works rehearsed over the course of the day.  Each participating director will receive a copy of this recording for their use.  According to third-year music education major, Ryan Ohm, “SingFest allows students from the area to come together and share the gift of music with each other. As a music education major I am honored to run sectionals with students to get that feel for real classroom experience.”  These are thoughts that are shared by Jack Elbert, a second year music education major.  “Singfest is a great opportunity for you students to learn be apart of the choir community, and this opportunity for us sections leaders gives us an opportunity to prepare for teaching in my scenario. We are all excited for the work that is going to be done.” 

Area choral music teachers who are interested in having their ensembles participate can contact Dr. Kingsbury at to register.  Due to space concerns, enrollment will be capped at 300 students. 

Dr. Anna DeGraff to perform Faculty Recital (9/3/2018)

Dr. Anna DeGraff

On Monday, September 10, Dr. Anna DeGraff (mezzo-soprano) will perform the recital program, Songs of the Muse:  The Life of Winnaretta Singer, Princesse de Polignac.  The performance will take place at 7:30pm at the First Lutheran Church in Marshall (100 Church Street).  Winnaretta Singer, the heiress to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, used her enormous wealth to support charitable causes and the advancement of the arts.  This program will feature songs composed by musicians whose music she championed during her adult life in Paris.  Assisted by Dr. Mary Ermel Walker (piano).

SMSU Director Shares Spanish Music with the Community  (8/2/2018)

Some exotic sounds have been floating in the breeze this summer among community band concerts around the region.  SMSU Director of Bands, Dr. John Ginocchio, recently returned from six weeks of sabbatical study in Spain, and since then, he has been sharing the band music of Spain with several community bands and speaking about his research.

Ginocchio with St Cloud Municipal BandDr. Ginocchio's research focuses on the music of a festival that began in the Valencia region of Spain about 400 years ago.  The Festival of Moors and Christians originally began in remembrance of the expulsion of the Moors from Spain during the Reconquest.  However, in recent decades, it has become a celebration of the Spanish culture that arose out of the hundreds of years of interaction between these cultures.  An important part of this festival is the music provided by area music societies and community bands of the region.  His studies centered around the role of this music within the festival and the two unique styles of music that have developed along with the festival, the Moorish March and the Christian March.  And it is this music along with other authentic pieces of Spanish band music that he has been presenting to the public.

Dr. Ginocchio has already conducted two concerts of this music, first on June 12 with the Mankato Area Community Band, and again on July 11 with the Marshall Municipal Band.  He will conduct two other concerts in coming weeks with the St. Cloud Municipal Band on August 9, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. in Barden Park.  Later on September 15, 2018 he will conduct the Swift County Concert Band.

In addition to these concerts, Dr. Ginocchio has also presented informational sessions on the Festival of Moors and Christians in Marshall and in Mankato.  Additional sessions will be advertised at a later date.

(Dr. Ginocchio's sabbatical travel and music study was made possible in part by a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council with funds from the McKnight Foundation.)

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