Continuing a tradition begun in 1953, the Western State College Music Department is sponsoring performances to benefit the Gunnison Volunteer Fire Department. The festival week has grown from its first years as an All-Colorado Honor Band performance to now include three concerts: the Host Night Gala Concert with WSC Symphony Band and Jazz Ensemble on Thursday, February 25, 7 p.m.; the All-Colorado Honor Band and WSC-Colorado Brass Band performances on Saturday, February 27, 2 p.m.; and the Western Slope Choral Festival with Mixed Honor Choir and Women’s Honor Choir on Tuesday, March 9, 7 p.m. All concerts will be in Taylor Auditorium. As a token of appreciation for the Gunnison Volunteer Fire Department’s contribution to the school and community, a donation to the GVFD is the admission fee.
The festival concerts provide an exciting opportunity for over 300 of Colorado’s finest instrumentalists, singers, and directors from more than 60 high schools to congregate on Western’s campus for rehearsals and performances throughout the week. Organization and administration of the festival activities is a collaboration among music faculty and students in Western’s collegiate chapter of Music Educators National Conference with the sponsorship of Western’s Music Department and Student Government Association Council of Creative Expressionists.
The Host Night Gala Concert on Thursday, February 25 at 7 p.m. will feature the WSC Symphony Band conducted by Dr. John Wacker and the Jazz Ensemble directed by Dr. Robert Barrett. In keeping with the long-standing tradition begun by the late Arthur Fiedler, conductor of the Boston Pops orchestra and a fire engine buff, members of the Gunnison Volunteer Fire Department will add their bells and whistles to close the concert with Goldman’s “Third Alarm March.”
The Saturday afternoon February 27, 2 p.m. concert will open with the WSC-Colorado Brass Band under the direction of Steve Asheim of Littleton. The WSC All-Colorado Honor Band will then perform under the direction of Dr. Thomas O’Neal of the University of Missouri in Columbia. Dr. John Wacker, WSC Director of Bands, will be guest conductor for one number on the afternoon program.
The Western Slope Choral Festival concert on Tuesday, March 9, 7 p.m. will feature three choirs. The conductor for the Western Slope Choral Festival Mixed Honor Choir is Dr. Greg Ramsdell of Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, and the conductor for the Women’s Honor Choir is Dr. Karen Kenaston-French of the University of Texas-Arlington. Dr. Heather Roberson, WSC Director of Choirs, will also guest conduct on the evening’s program. The Directors’ Choir conducted by Tom Kyser of Durango High School will open the program on Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. Accompanists for the honor choirs are Linda McGinn, choir director at Pueblo South High School, and Alyce Meredith, WSC choir accompanist.