WMU trombone students hit high notes

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KALAMAZOO--Five trombone students in the Western Michigan University School of Music hit high notes in recent international competitions, with three of them heading to Paris as a result.

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Bowman, Clifton and Schaffert

Eric Bowman of Portage, Mich., Evan Clifton of Howell, Mich., and Kirsten Schaffert of Sanford, Mich., have all been named finalists in recent International Trombone Association solo competitions and will be traveling to Paris this summer to continue competing.

Bowman, a senior trombone performance major, was named a finalist in the Frank Smith Trombone Solo Competition, which includes students to age 25, mostly master's and doctoral students. Bowman has won a number of prestigious competitions during his tenure at WMU.

Clifton, a freshman bass trombone major, has been named one of three finalists in the George Roberts International Solo Competition, which includes bass trombone students 18 and under. Clifton is also a finalist in the National Trombone Solo Competition, sponsored by the U.S. Army Band and set for March.

Schaffert, a music education senior at WMU, was named a finalist in the Larry Wiehe International Solo Competition. The competition is for students through age 23.

WMU graduate trombone students also made their marks in the recent competitions.

Graduate student Erik Dancy has been awarded second alternate finalist, equivalent to fifth place, in the Larry Wiehe Solo competition, while graduate student Nate Musch received an honorable mention in the Lewis Van Haney Philharmonic Prize competition, a contest for aspiring orchestral players. This is the second year in a row for Musch to earn honorable mention status in the very competitive event.

Last, but certainly not least, high school senior Austin "A.J." Muusse, a non-university student of WMU Music Professor Steve Wolfinbarger, won honorable mention in the George Roberts Solo Competition.

"These students worked so hard to get to this point," Wolfinbarger says. "The competitions represent the highest level of student trombone competition in the world. All you have to do is look at the major programs represented by the other finalists."

Clifton, for instance, will compete against students from the Julliard School and the United Kingdom for the grand prize this July in Paris. Bowman will compete against a student from the Eastman School of Music.

"We are fortunate to have more students recognized than any other school in the country," Wolfinbarger says.

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Trombone student named finalist in two solo competitions | Feb. 15, 2012
WMU trombone student captures international win in Paris | July 9, 2012