CHADRON – Chadron State College will celebrate its 50th High Plains Band and Choir Festival Monday and Tuesday in Memorial Hall.
The event will include 151 students from 26 high schools in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming, according to the event organizer and Accompanist Bobby Pace. CSC faculty and students assist with two days of clinics followed by a culminating performance.
The public is invited to free performances in Memorial Hall’s auditorium. The first will feature soprano soloist Carol Perry with Pace Monday at 7 p.m.
Perry’s recital, No Boys Aloud, will include art songs and musical theatre pieces written by women. The culminating concert, led by Guest Conductor Dr. William K. Wakefield, will be Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Perry, a voice teacher in Detroit, manages a private voice studio and teaches voice at Eastern Michigan University. During the festival, she will teach sessions on breathing and repertoire equity.
Wakefield, Director of Bands Emeritus at the University of Oklahoma, has been the guest conductor for more than 100 all-state and collegiate honor bands, university ensembles, and professional and military bands.
He is the recipient of Phi Mu Alpha’s Orpheus Award for significant contributions to Music in America. He also received the Blue Key Honor Society Teaching Excellence Award. In 2013, he was awarded Kappa Kappa Psi’s highest national award, the Distinguished Service to Music Medal.
Dr. Jim Margetts, Dean of Liberal Arts said the longevity of the High Plains Band and Choir Festival is a testament to the shared vision of its founders and all those who have participated throughout the years.
“Many of this year’s participants are following in the footsteps of older siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, and even grandparents. A festival like this also doesn’t continue for 50 years without the support of hundreds of individual high school music teachers and their promotion of the values that those selected for participation in High Plains exemplify, such as hard work, persistence, bravery, and a passion for excellence,” Margetts said.
He said there is nothing quite like CSC’s festival.
“The event celebrates individual success while miraculously melding these disparate talents to produce nuanced performances of beautiful and inspiring music in less than 36 hours. I can’t wait to hear what this year’s participants can accomplish,” Margetts said.
In a video on the CSC YouTube channel, Michaela Babic, a teacher at Bridgeport Public Schools, said High Plains has been an important opportunity for students living in a rural region.
“There’s something important in that sort of continuity for the community and for the college,” Babic said.
Pace said the festival gives students from small towns the chance to feel the power of being in a large choir.
In the video, Cade Stephenson of Alliance, Nebraska, said it has been interesting going from being a high school student participating in the festival, to being a CSC student who helps manage the sessions.
“I’ve kind of seen both sides of the High Plains festival,” Stephenson said. “[At their high schools] they don’t have very large ensembles so when they all come together as one band they’re able to hear what a full concert score is supposed to sound like.”
Aubrey Garrett of Alliance, Nebraska, said in the video that although she attended many different choirs and honor bands during high school, none were as important to her as High Plains because it felt like home.
“I think that’s exactly what High Plains is meant to do, make music and Chadron feel like home, to anybody,” Garrett said. “Having a chance to talk to somebody in college [who is] doing the exact thing you want to do is a great tool to help you for your future.”
—CSC College Relations