High Plains Festival brings area youth to campus

CSC hosted over 175 students from high schools in the surrounding area on Monday and Tuesday as part of the 46th annual High Plains Band and Choir Festival.
The festival is organized and executed by both the music department and members of the CSC chapter of the National Association for Music Education.
NaFME president Megan Anderson, 22, senior of Hill City, South Dakota, said the festival is held to help recruit and give students who perform in the festival a chance to see what CSC has to offer.
“It’s a good opportunity for students who want to go [to CSC] to meet with professors,” Anderson said. “They can get a feel for class sizes and the building they are going to be in.”
High school students in Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota must audition to earn a spot in the various honor ensembles. In the past, the ensembles available for audition were choir and band. This year was the first year in which the festival also offered a keyboard ensemble and guitar ensemble to audition for.
After auditioning and getting a spot in the ensemble, students then spend two days on campus with faculty and collegiate music students, learning more about the music program at CSC and rehearsing for the final concert of the festival on the second day.
Along with rehearsals and spending time on the CSC campus, members of the honor ensembles also got to see some CSC students in action and watch performances from the various ensembles at CSC, including the Vocal Jazz group and CSC Jazz Band.
“We do it so students can see how they can sound after they have gone through high school playing,” Anderson said.
The High Plains Honor Band and Choir performed their annual concert, Tuesday, in the Memorial Hall Auditorium on the CSC campus.
The Honor Choir was directed by guest conductor Benjamin T. Keller, a retired choral instructor from Washington, with over 40 years of teaching experience and recipient of awards such as Outstanding Choral Director for the State of Washington and Outstanding Music Educator for the Mountain Region of the Washington Music Educators Association.
Michael Knight, Director of Bands at Chadron State College, was the conductor for the Honor Band. Before becoming a professor at CSC, he previously taught at the University of Delaware, University of Missouri and St. Norbert College in Wisconsin.
The music department’s next concert will be Brooks Hafey’s faculty recital this coming Sunday, Feb. 11. A full list of events can be found on the music department’s website.

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