USA Department of Music to Co-Host Alabama All-State Band Festival


Posted on April 14, 2015 by Joy Washington
Joy Washington


The USA Wind Ensemble will perform a host concert Friday at the Saenger Theatre to welcome the All-State Band Festival to Mobile. data-lightbox='featured'
The USA Wind Ensemble will perform a host concert Friday at the Saenger Theatre to welcome the All-State Band Festival to Mobile.

The University of South Alabama Department of Music will co-host the 2015 Alabama Bandmasters Association All-State Band Festival to be held April 15-17 in Mobile. Instrumentalists from across the state, selected as part of a rigorous audition process, will work with internationally recognized conductors over a three-day period. The All-State Band Festival culminates with a Saturday afternoon finale concert at the Mobile Civic Center. 

USA will host the All-State Festival Solo Competition on Wednesday, April 15 from 11:00 a.m. – 8:45 p.m. at the John W. Laidlaw Performing Arts Center. One hundred and fifty of the top high school instrumental musicians in Alabama will be participating. The first round of the competition is closed to the public; however, the finale concert is a free event, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Laidlaw Recital Hall.

The USA Wind Ensemble, under the baton of Dr. Will Petersen, conductor of the USA Wind Ensemble and director of bands at the University, will perform a special host concert at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 17, at the Saenger Theatre in downtown Mobile. The concert will feature Dr. Jasmin Arakawa, assistant professor of music (Piano and Collaborative Piano), who joined the faculty last August. She will perform George Gershwin’s 1924 masterpiece, "Rhapsody in Blue." The Wind Ensemble will also showcase works by composers James Beckel, Percy Fletcher, Percy Grainger, John Philip Sousa, John Mackey and Michael Daugherty. The concert is free and open to the public. Seating is general admission.

“The instrumentation for 'Rhapsody' harkens back to the original orchestration created for Paul Whiteman and the Palais Royal Orchestra, which was essentially an augmented jazz ensemble,” Petersen said. “As listeners, we are so used to hearing this work set for a large symphony orchestra, but this is a chance to hear this stunning composition the way that Stravinsky, Sousa, and many of the most famous musicians in the world heard it at the premiere. We are thrilled to have Dr. Arakawa for the Gershwin but very fortunate to feature several USA faculty, both past and present, who have helped the department of music and the USA Wind Ensemble flourish into their current incarnation.”

USA guest conductors include Dr. Greg L. Gruner, chair of the department of music and director of bands from 1993-2014; Dr. Michael Phillips, USA’s associate director of bands; and Dr. Lacey Powell, USA’s first director of bands, serving from 1965-1982.

As part of the 2015 Alabama All-State Band Festival, the USA department of music will be staffing volunteers for the administration of the festival, and providing equipment and instruments for various ensembles.

The 2015 Alabama All-State Band Festival Finale Concert will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 18, at the Mobile Civic Center. The concert will feature more than 500 of the most talented high school instrumentalists in the state of Alabama. This event is free and open to the public.


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