First String Player to Conduct Concert Band

Hannah Rundam

One of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s cello players Anna Huemann, a senior Instrumental and General Music Education Major, is breaking ground as the first string player to direct Concert Band.

“I never thought I would have the privilege of conducting the Concert Band because I am a string player, and everyone before me had been in band,” Huemann said.

Though no one prior to Huemann has directed Concert Band, string players have conducted the Campus Band after playing a secondary instrument in the ensemble.

“I was not a member so I didn’t think that would be an option,” Huemann said.

Undergraduate instrumental students have been involved in conducting UWSP’s Campus Band, Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Band since Brendan Caldwell, Assistant Professor and Director of Bands, developed the Apprentice Conducting program in 2007.

Although very few universities in the country allow for undergraduate conducting, Professor Caldwell’s experience in college compelled him to create such a program.

“As an undergraduate, I really wanted to conduct, but it was not made possible for me,” Caldwell said. “I seek to give my students as many opportunities as their professionalism justifies. Hopefully, the Apprentice Conducting Program will eventually extend to all of our musical ensembles.”

Directing a UWSP musical ensemble is an accomplishment and privilege for any young musical professional.

“We watch the students very closely in Conducting and Music Education classes,” Caldwell said. “Frankly, we’re looking for someone who doesn’t look like a student. Anyone who looks like a professional, we try to give them the opportunity for a professional experience.”

Students that show the most professionalism get the opportunity to work with Music Major groups like the Concert Band and the Wind Ensemble.

“Anna is really professional and a solid musician. She has strength of character, and a state of fearlessness,” said Caldwell.

Once selected, students must chose three pieces of music that they would love to work on with the band. Professor Caldwell makes the final decision.

“I tell them to make their love equal for each piece, so they will be excited about whatever I choose,” Caldwell said.

Huemann’s piece Mazama represents cultural and musical elements of the Mazama Indians from the Pacific Northwest.

“I fell in love with Mazama right away, and was so excited about how unique it is,” Huemann said.

After the piece is chosen, the apprentice conductors must memorize the various parts and sing what is called a skeleton score from beginning to end.

“I started with listening to the piece over and over,” Huemann said. “Since you can’t sing all the parts at once, I focused on the melody line first, and then important entrances or the percussion instruments.”

Despite saying that the sing-through was the most challenging part of the process, Huemann did very well.

“Usually students don’t do the whole thing the first time, but Anna was able to,” said Caldwell.

Huemann began working with the Concert Band in mid-March and is nearing the end of rehearsals.

She will be leading Concert Band in Mazama at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23 in Michelsen Hall in the Noel Fine Arts Center.

The concert will feature both the Concert Band and the Wind Ensemble. Student tickets are available for $3 or free with a valid student I.D. the day of the concert.

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