High School students from the quad state area will gather Monday at 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts building’s Knutson Theatre to partake in the University of South Dakota’s 14th annual USD Quad State Honor Band Festival.
“High school students come from the four-state area, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota and they are selected by audition,” Rolf Olson, director of bands at USD said. “Each band is approximately 65 students and we did (get quite a few applicants). We probably had about 170 (applicants) or so.”
The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature a concert band conducted by Emeritus professor Lawrence Mitchell, as well as a symphonic band conducted by assistant professor Jonathan Alvis, with a piece guest conducted by Olson. Both bands will play about 30 minutes apiece.
Olson said about 32 high schools in the quad state area will be represented at the festival.
“They are some of the talented students in the area and in the region and it’ll just be a fun evening of good band music for people, for entertainment sake,” he said.
Attendees can expect a wide variety of music, said Mitchell, who started the festival 14 years ago.
“We try and pick interesting music,” Mitchell said. “I try to pick something interesting with variety and also something that gives the kids something good to play.”
Between the two bands, pieces chosen will vary greatly, Mitchell said. Just a few of the pieces selected include a Russian hymn, American folk songs, original pieces written by USD faculty, a classic British march, and an up-tempo contemporary piece.
For some of the high school students participating on Monday, this will be their first opportunity to play in a full band, Mitchell said.
“If you look around there are just so many itty bitty towns where they have 25-piece bands and they don’t even have complete instrumentation, which really limits what they can play,” Mitchell said.
Additionally, the festival allows USD’s music department to introduce high school students in the region to its program, Olson said.
“A big part of (the festival) is recruiting and to get these students on campus and hopefully interested in attending school at USD,” he said. “The other (reason) is to provide a venue for good students in the area to come and get together with other students and play really great band music. It provides kind of a service, and opportunity for these music students.”