The Almond-Bancroft High School band will perform musical pieces arranged by University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) students at its annual concert at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 9.
The concert collaboration is with UWSP students in Music 315: Orchestration, an upper level class that works on orchestration.
Mary Nowinski, the Almond-Bancroft band director, said most band music is typically written for up to 33 instruments, but the Almond-Bancroft band only has 16 members, requiring adaptations of instruments to meet the situation.
Associate Professor Stacey Berk, who teaches the Orchestration course, said Nowinski brought up the situation during a chance meeting with Nowinski last year and they talked about the possibility of having UWSP students in the course handle arrangements for a smaller group.
Nowinski had been in Berk’s class while an undergraduate and said she was using the skills learned in the course to adapt music to fit the number of band members in order to hold a performance.
“She said that because the band was so small that she has had to rewrite literally for the instruments,” Berk said.
Berk said she decided to make a class project of doing the adaptations. She paired students in the course to rewrite or rearrange nine pieces of music to the specifics of the Almond-Bancroft band, and then sent the works to the band to practice.
The Almond-Bancroft band performed some of the pieces for the UWSP students on Friday, April 5, with a couple of UWSP students filling in with the clarinet section to help strengthen the sound.
“It was a win-win situation,” she said. “The students get the real-world experience of doing adaptation and hearing it played while the high school students get the music. It was a nice collaboration.”
In future semesters, Berk said she hoped to continue the project with other small school districts that might need some help. It gives the students experience with something they might need in the future if they have to adapt music for school programs that don’t have a sufficient number of instruments that a musical piece is written for, she said.
Nowinski, a UWSP graduate and Stevens Point native, said she thinks anyone involved in the project should be overjoyed with what they did.
“I see it as a service any band director in the state would be happy to have,” she said.
Previously, Nowinski had to do the adaptations and she said she has some other pieces ready to go for the concert. “I think the kids like these pieces better than what I did,” she said about the UWSP students’ adaptations.