Annual band festival offers high school students new opportunities
3 mins read

Annual band festival offers high school students new opportunities

The 21st annual Quad State Honor Band Festival was held in Aalfs Auditorium on Sunday and Monday. 132 high school students from South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota were selected to be a part of the two-day festival.

John LoCognata, USD director of bands, said high school students can submit applications and be selected to be a part of two honor bands during the festival. The top band is the symphonic band, which LoCognata conducted, and the second band is a concert band, which Dr. Todd Cranson, USD director of athletic bands, conducted.

“The bands rehearse starting on Sunday, Jan. 27 and then they rehearse through Monday, Jan. 28,” LoCognata said. “Then on Monday evening we do a concert. They will have been sent the music that we’re going to perform but we’ll never have played together until that moment.”

Two things LoCognata said are different for this year’s Quad State Honor Band Festival is that the students got the chance to have a masterclass with USD’s applied music faculty and they brought in a guest composer.

“Our composer is Rossano Galante and he writes some really wonderful music for bands,” LoCognata said. “He’s a film score composer and he’s done a lot of stuff in L.A., so having him on campus is going to be really cool. We’re playing two of his pieces with the top group and two of his pieces with the second band. He’s going to conduct his music.”

Hannah Cooper, a junior clarinet player from Dakota Valley High School, said she enjoyed working with the guest composer.

“It’s been really cool getting to play with Rossano Galante,” Cooper said. “I also thought it was cool how it actually got put together really quick because we’ve never played them before.”

Todd Cook, Norfolk High School band director, said he’s brought students to Quad State Honor Band Festival for the past four years. This year he brought 12 students and he said it’s a great chance for them to work with two USD directors, the guest composer and other students.  

“It’s a great experience for them to get to play with students from South Dakota and Iowa and Minnesota,” Cook said.  

LoCognata said they try to send out information about the festival “as far and wide as we can.”

“We target South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota, so we get representation from those four states traditionally,” LoCognata said. “I’m sure at some point they’ve had a North Dakota person and they’ve had a Wyoming person and this, that and the other, but that’s our quad-state region that we’re really active in recruiting from. We’ve got 31 different schools represented from this 132 students.”

LoCognata said the festival is also a great recruiting tool for the university.

“I think it’s always important that the students that come here see us because really it’s a recruitment event,” he said. “We want to entice them to come to USD and study music. Having a guest composer also gives them a chance to work with an outside person.”

LoCognata said his favorite part about the festival is just having the high school students on campus.

“It’s getting to know them and also getting to know the band directors,” LoCognata said. “We’re still new to the area so this gives us the opportunity to work with those band directors and see where they are, what they need and how we can help them in the future.”