Winds of change

Wind Ensemble heads to Michigan Music Conference


Photo by Natalie Seitz

First Chair French Horn Zora Alfredson warms up with the wind ensemble on Dec. 2. Alfredson is preparing to lead the French Horn section in the Michigan Music Conference in January.

As one of the eight high school groups invited to perform at the Michigan Music Conference (MMC), the wind ensemble will travel to Grand Rapids in January. 

MMC is a conference for all music teachers and students from kindergarten to 12th grade from anywhere in the state. Eight bands are invited to perform at the conference after submitting a recording to be evaluated about a year earlier. Second chair trumpet player Annie Walton (10) says the band members recognize this as a huge achievement.

“It’s a big honor to be invited to play at MMC, ” Walton said. 

First chair French hornist Zora Alfredson (12) shares the sentiment that MMC is an honor.

“The conference is a really big deal,” Alfredson said. “Only eight bands in the state are accepted to go each year.”

A big difference this year for the conference is that most of the students performing are not the same students that submitted a recorded audition from March 2020, according to Larzelere. 

Larzelere also feels a little under pressure since the 45-minute concert is much longer than what the band is used to. He says it is “kind of a bigger bite to chew” than normal concerts. Alfredson realized this as well.

“We started working on the music for the conference during marching band season because we need everything to be perfect,” Alfredson said. 

David Larzelere directing Wind Ensemble
Band director David Larzelere directs the band through the warm up on Dec. 2. On that day, they were playing Shenandoah arranged by Omar Thomas. (Photo by Quinn Martin)

A big challenge for Larzelere was picking music for the group to perform at MMC at the beginning of the year.

“Trying to pick music and not really knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the ensemble at that point was a challenge for sure,” Larzelere said.

He says he is happy with the music because it provides a challenge to the group but is also attainable.

“I’m really pleased with the level of difficulty of music that we have and the diversity of types of music that we have.“ Larzelere said.

When choosing music, he also tried to find music from diverse or underrepresented composers.

“It was really important to me to select composers from diverse backgrounds,” Larzelere said. “A lot of band music is written by white men and that was something that was really important to me, to try to program music that featured underrepresented populations.”

The band started practicing six pieces of music mid-October and will only perform these pieces twice before the Michigan Music Conference, once being the winter band concert and the other being a preview concert the week of the conference. Walton emphasized how important and rare this opportunity is.

“There is a lot of pressure to be really good because you don’t get a lot of opportunities to perform at a conference like this,” Walton said. “When you do get an opportunity to perform, you want to take full advantage of it and prepare.” 

 Larzelere says overall he is very pleased with the group and it’s growth.

“I’m really pleased with the progress of the group,” Larzelere said. “I’m really pleased with where the group is and the level of commitment that they’ve demonstrated.”