For the 35th consecutive year, the instrumental department at Oklahoma Baptist University hosted the regional junior and senior high school honor bands. Almost 160 students gathered in Raley Chapel on the campus of OBU on Jan. 5-6 to rehearse with two distinguished guest conductors in preparation for an evening concert on Tuesday evening.
According to Dr. Jim Hansford, host of the event and professor of music and director of bands at OBU since 1990, students from 27 area schools participated in the musical event.
"The process began in November when over 500 students in grades 7 through 12 came to our campus to audition for a spot in one of the bands," Hansford said. "It is quite competitive when you consider we needed 10 junior high flutists and over 50 auditioned."
The guest clinician-conductors this year were William Ballenger, head of the Music Department at Oklahoma State University, who conducted the high school band, and Dr. Michael Raiber, assistant professor of music education at the University of Oklahoma, who conducted the junior high group. The conductors each had approximately nine hours of rehearsal with their respective bands prior to the Tuesday evening concert.
Six local schools, Shawnee, Grove, North Rock Creek, Bethel, Dale, and Tecumseh had a total of 38 students in the two groups. Other regional schools represented include Casady (Oklahoma City), Choctaw, Cushing, Deer Creek (Oklahoma City), Del City, Harrah, Kerr Junior High (Del City), Konawa, McLoud, Meeker, Nicoma Park, Noble, Oklahoma Christian, Prague, Hefner Junior High (Putnam City), Putnam City North (Oklahoma City), Seminole, Southwest Covenant, Washington, Wellston and Wynnewood.
"This is a unique opportunity for these young students when they can join in a collaborative musical effort with other musicians from across the region under the baton of a recognized guest conductor and perform literature that many of them could not perform in their respective school bands," said Hansford.
An estimated 500 parents, relatives, and friends gathered in Potter Auditorium to hear the evening's musical presentation.