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40th Annual Regional Honor Bands Gather at OBU

January 12, 2009

For the 40th consecutive year, the instrumental department at Oklahoma Baptist University hosted the regional junior and senior high school honor bands Jan. 5-6 in Raley Chapel on the OBU campus. Nearly 160 students, representing 30 area schools, gathered to rehearse with two distinguished guest conductors in preparation for a Tuesday evening concert.

"The process began in November when over 500 students in grades seven through 12 came to the campus to audition for a spot in one of the bands," said Dr. Jim Hansford, host of the event and OBU's Burton Patterson professor of music and director of bands. "It is quite competitive when you consider we needed 10 junior high flutists and over 50 auditioned."

The guest clinician-conductors this year were Dr. Quincy Hilliard, composer in residence at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, who conducted the high school band, and Mr. Scott Hillock, head band director at Jenks High School, who conducted the junior high band.

Hilliard is a nationally known composer, adjudicator and guest conductor who works with all-state bands and region bands around the country. Hillock is one of Oklahoma's most well-respected high school directors, having received numerous awards for his teaching. His band in Jenks, Okla., was chosen as a high school honor band to perform at the annual music educators conference in Tulsa this month. Each conductor had approximately nine hours of rehearsal with their respective bands prior to the Tuesday evening concert.

"We've practiced for over nine hours the past two days," said Aaron Morton, a senior trombone player from Bethel High School. It was Morton's third year to participate in the musical event.

"We are definitely prepared," he said. "It was very nerve-wracking in the beginning, but it has gotten easier over the years."

Fifty students participated in the two groups, representing six local schools: Shawnee High, Shawnee Middle, Grove, North Rock Creek, Bethel, Dale, and Tecumseh.

Other regional schools represented included: Byng, Central Home School, Choctaw, Christian Heritage, Coalgate, Cushing, Deer Creek (Edmond), Del City, Harding Charter Prep High School (OKC), Hefner Middle School (Putman City), Highland East Junior High (Moore), Konawa, McLoud, Nicoma Park, Noble, Oklahoma Christian (Edmond), Pauls Valley, Prague, Putnam City North High School (OKC), 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 nationally recognized guest conductor and perform literature that many of them could not perform in their respective school bands," Hansford said.

An estimated 500 parents, relatives and friends gathered in Potter Auditorium to hear Tuesday evening's musical presentation.