THS wind ensemble selected for prestigious concert

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Thompson High School wind ensemble will take a different type of spring trip this school year, after a panel of nationally renowned music teachers and composers recently named the band one of 24 groups to perform at a national band festival.

The 80-member THS wind ensemble will travel to Indianapolis in March 2011 to perform in the Music for All National Concert Band Festival. The local band was one of only 14 high school bands selected nationwide to perform in the festival.

“This is something we have been working towards for the past couple of years,” said THS Band Director Jon Bubbett. “The National Concert Band Festival is widely considered to be one of the top performance venues for university and high school bands in the country.”

To be selected for the concert, Bubbett had to submit an application and recordings of the band from the 2009-2010 school year.

The recordings were then reviewed by James Keene, retired director of bands for the University of Illinois; Richard Floyd, state director of music at the University of Texas and internationally known composer Robert W. Smith, who is now a music teacher at Troy University.

The concert will require the band to perform some of the most difficult music available, and the wind ensemble will begin practicing the musical pieces soon, Bubbett said.

Because the National Concert Band Festival is a nationwide event, rather than the regional events THS usually participates in every year, it will be a different type of trip for the band.

“This trip is not another ‘spring trip’ that high school music performing groups traditionally take every year,” Bubbett said. “This is not a reward trip in the sense that we travel to central Florida and see how many roller coasters we can ride after performing in a regional music festival or parade through a theme park.

“It is, however, a reward for the hard work put in by dedicated students and teachers to develop skills and a standard of musical excellence that is being recognized as one of the very best in the United States,” Bubbett added.

Each year, members of the THS band usually pay for or fundraise the cost of the trip, and about 75-85 percent of the band members go on the trip, Bubbett said. However, Bubbett said he is looking for 100 percent band participation during this year’s trip.

“They have all earned this invitation. They have all shared in this at some level, and they all are invaluable and essential to the success of this performance,” Bubbett said. “Our goal is to take everybody.”

To take 80 students to Indianapolis, the band will have to raise nearly $60,000 over the next few months. The fundraising goal will be about $150 per person each month, or about $12,000 total per month over the next five months.

“Ideally, we would like to raise all the funds so that no students, or chaperone, will have to pay for any of the trip out of pocket,” Bubbett said. “As far as I’m concerned, if we have to leave one student, then none of us go.

“We understand that this is a seemingly impossible goal, especially given the current economic climate,” Bubbett added. “However, we also understand that people can accomplish the seemingly impossible when determination and teamwork kick in and people strive to become more than what they currently are.”

Bubbett is encouraging all band parents and Alabaster residents to help with the band’s fundraising efforts to make it possible for all members of the band to pay for the trip.

For more information about the trip, or to help with the band’s fundraising efforts, call Bubbett at 682-5707, or e-mail Jbubbett@shelbyed.k12.al.us.