The end of October to now has been a bit of a blur – football playoffs, honors band auditions, KSU work, finishing up two new pieces and digging in on a third one, and the big news the birth of my son.  He joins me awash in a sea of estrogen – but if you have met my daughters and my wife there really is no greater ocean to be around.  My apologies for being gone so long.  A big thank you again to all who participated in the Blog Carnival last month.

One of the more interesting conversations I had over the past month was in regards to who is in fact next? ESPN’s The Magazine asks this same question each year as they look for the next greatest thing to come along in sports.  Dr. Pisano and I had this conversation a little over two weeks ago.  There is always a passing of the torch that occurs in any profession.  Sometimes it is graceful, and sometimes it is not.  Sometimes leaders make awesome exits at the top of their game (take James Keane last year at the Midwest Clinic with the Illinois Wind Ensemble), and sometimes they hold on too long (not to mention any names like Al Davis and the glorious debacle that is the Raiders).  Is there another Alfred Reed or Clifton Williams? What about a Kenneth Bloomquist or John Bourgeois?  And I say that with realization that there will never be another, but will there be someone that will accept the mantle and has earned the respect of our profession to follow in their legacy?

So who in our profession is next? Before I get to my list a disclaimer – I can only go by who I have seen, who I have worked with, who I have spoken to.  I am sure my list does not encompass all who deserve to be considered.  I don’t mean to exclude, but I will also not put out list that I can not substantiate either.  I would hope that like the Fire I lit a year or so ago about band literature, that we could open up some dialogue and start supporting others in the profession who might be utilized or contacted for someone else’s festival, music conference, a comisssion, or a clinic. 

Stick Men:

Dr. R. Tad Greig from Westminster College – My first nominee is right in my back yard, but I have really been impressed with him over the past 14 years as an educator, and conductor.  He and his Wind Ensemble will be performing this spring at our State Convention in April.  Tad’s knowledge of repertoire and his choice of engaging programs for festivals and his own students always impress me.

Dr. Stephen Gage from Youngstown State University – My second nominee is only about 35 minutes away.  I have had two students play in his youth orchestra, and have seen him work ensembles at festivals on four different occasions.  If you have never had the pleasure of watching him work a group, it is worth it.  Impeccable knowledge of his score, and he has a wonderful ability to convey the music to group.  I am most impressed with the core of his character.

Dr. Dennis Fisher from North Texas State University – The other guy at UNT.  It is hard to think of Dr. Fisher as a #2 to anybody.  I have spoken with him at both festivals at which I observed him work, and two things are readily obvious: He knows his stick work well, and he is one the sharpest education guys in our profession as well.  Dr. Corporon gets the lions share of recognition (and much of it deservedly so), but Dr. Fisher’s reputation is growing and I think he will be next.

Andrew Boysen, Jr., University of New Hampshire – Yes, yes, Boysen also writes like nobody’s business.  But I was even more impressed with him in person at an Honors Band festival two years ago.  The benefit of being a composer I definitely feel gives him an advantage on the podium in bringing another writers music to life. 

ADDENDUM!!! (updated on December 15, 2008)

Dr. Stephen Peterson, Ithaca University – I had the opportunity to observe Dr. Peterson last Thursday through Saturday with our local Honors Band.  He studided and worked with Paynter, and it was displayed brilliantly as his command of  Prelude, Siciliano, and Rondo was fantastic.  His ability to unlock and interpret a score was really impressive (loved his treatment of His Honor by Fillmore), and his personality really clicked with the ensemble.

Composers:

Mark Camphouse, George Washington University – His conception and creation of the large form of music for wind ensemble and concert bands is tremendous.  While Movement for Rosa, Watchman Tell Us of the Night, and Yosemite Autumn are just tremendous, I am convinced that his best works are yet to be created.

Patrick Burns, Montclair State University – Patrick’s writing is really taking off over the past few years.  He recently sent me a score to his score I loved well those cities… (for narrator and band) and I was really blown away. His Toccata is one of the most exciting pieces I have heard in a long time.  If you are worried this is too heady for your group, check out his Gothic Dance  and (my personal favorite) Suspended Animation.

Brian Balmages – I am somewhat envious of Brian’s position – he is a composer.  While he does handle editing for the FJH Music Company, he is really developing some fantastic pieces for ensembles of all kinds.  It was a pleasure bringing him in last year via Skype as my ensemble performed his Summer Dances.  One of the more dynamic pieces I have heard from him recently is Fusion – a multi-movement work that fuses a variety of styles.

Clinicians:

Jess Beblo, Beaver Area School District – Listen up PA educators (and those from around the world) – if you are looking a young, vibrant educator that is passionate about her work, great perspective, and understands how to put curriculum together in today’s schools contact Jess.  She presented at our PMEA in-service for District 5 this fall, and I could not have been more impressed.  She is in a great situation at her school working with two other very polished people in Susan Metelsky and Carl Newyear.

Dr. Joseph Pisano, Grove City College – We have been friends for years, but I do have to step back from time to appreciate what he has accomplished since we met in the summer of 1991.  Joe has such great vision for what our profession could become, and when you consider this whole blogger movement you start to realize this isn’t some dream – the framework is going up as manyof us are examining our practices, sharing ideas, and rethinking music education in a positive way.  And to think, all because we chose to share some thoughts on line.  The practioners of the “universal language” engaged in a global conversation.

Tim Loest – Tim has so many great works for young band.  Tim has also spent a lot of time working on method books.  Throw in some of his studies at Northwestern with some guy named Reimer, and I really think he is the total package when it comes to educational presentations for band.  If you get a chance, ask him about coal and diamonds – trust me, it will change the way you teach.  There is great depth to the core of Tim’s character, and great perspective as he is a public educator, clinician, father, and composer.

So that is the short list, or at least my list.  I would love to hear from all of you with some contributions in any category (including orchestra & chorus).  The “old guard” will always have their place, and they certainly have earned my respect and admiration.  But a new guard needs to be ready to step forward and assume the mantle of leadership in the world of music education, and as a community of professionals we need to do our part to make sure that people know about them.

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