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Wind and percussion featured in free concerts

March 23, 2009

KALAMAZOO--The 41st annual Spring Conference on Wind and Percussion Music at Western Michigan University culminates with a closing concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 2, in Miller Auditorium. Concert and conference are free and open to the public.

The day's activities also include two afternoon band concerts presented by the Walled Lake Central Wind Ensemble conducted by David W. Rogers at1 p.m. and the Clarkston Symphonic Wind Ensemble conducted by Michael P. Lewis at 2:45 p.m., both in Miller Auditorium.

Spring conference is a daylong event presented each year to promote the performance, understanding, and composition of quality wind and percussion music. Each year the festival focuses on a guest composer/conductor whose works are featured during the conference. This year's featured artist is composer Brian Balmages.

The concert will feature performances by the Western Michigan University Symphonic Band, conducted by Robert L. Spradling, and the 120-member Brian Balmages All-Star Band. Students from as many as 70 Michigan high schools are expected to be nominated by their band directors for the honor of performing in this band. Traditionally more than 90 percent of the ensemble's membership is awarded to musicians who hold first-chair-player positions in their own high school bands.

Brian Balmages

Balmages is an active composer, conductor, producer, and performer. His fresh compositional ideas have been heralded by many performers and directors, resulting in high demand of his works for winds, brass, and orchestra.

His bachelor's degree is from James Madison University; his master's degree from the University of Miami in Florida. His compositions have been performed worldwide at national and regional College Band Directors National Association conferences, the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, the International Tuba/Euphonium Conference, the International Trombone Festival, and the International Trumpet Guild Conference.

His schedule of commissions and premieres has incorporated groups ranging from elementary schools to professional ensembles, including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Miami Symphony Orchestra, the University of Miami Wind Ensemble, and the Dominion Brass Ensemble. Commissions have also come from noted professional artists, and world premieres of his works have been heard in prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall.

Media contact: Kevin West, (269) 387-4678, kevin.west@wmich.edu

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