MSU band staff welcomes high school musicians, guest conductors to honor clinic

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Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—More than 200 high school musicians from throughout the region will participate Thursday-Saturday [Jan. 26-28] in Mississippi State’s 64th annual University Honor Band Clinic.

The campus event began in the early 1950s as a new materials clinic and was among only a few such university-based programs in the U.S. In the original format, band directors were invited to hear performances of newly published music to consider for their organizations.

“It’s a privilege for us to host this clinic each year and have some of the best student musicians from the Southeast in attendance,” said Elva Kaye Lance, MSU director of bands. “We hope that their experiences on our campus will lead them to become members of the Famous Maroon Band one day.”

Participants in this year’s clinic were selected from more than 300 who auditioned in late November and early December. Those selected met specific criteria in musicianship, technique and tone quality.

Free to all, clinic performances in the McComas Hall main theater will include:

—Thursday, 6:30 p.m., Honor Jazz Band and Honor Percussion Ensemble;

—Friday, 7:30 p.m., MSU Wind Ensemble; and

—Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Honor Band final concert.

Lance, also an instructor of music, said “every clinic like this has its own unique events,” adding that “the honor band jazz and ensemble and percussion ensemble are those experiences.”

By working with associate bands director Cliff Taylor and percussion studies director Jason Baker, visiting students have the opportunity to “participate in highly selective, small groups that help make the honor band experience even better,” Lance said.

The Wind Ensemble will premiere a new work titled “Concertpiece for Marimba and Wind Ensemble” during the Friday evening performance. Composed by Taylor and featuring Baker as soloist, the piece was commissioned by Baker, who led a consortium of schools from Mississippi, North Carolina and Michigan to generate funding. These schools also will have exclusive rights to perform the work during the coming year before it is made available to the general public.

While composed for wind ensemble, the music is heavily influenced by jazz, fusion and pop styles, making it a unique contribution to the repertoire for solo marimba. Taylor will guest conduct the Wind Ensemble for the performance of the new piece.

Baker and Taylor are associate professors in the MSU music department. Joining them will be guest conductors Mark Camphouse, Nola Jones and Jeff Mathews.

Mark Camphouse is professor and associate director of the School of Music at George Mason University, where he conducts the wind symphony and teaches courses in conducting and composition. He has served as a guest conductor and clinician in 42 U.S. states, as well as Canada and Europe. In addition to his work with the high school honor band students, he also will guest conduct the performance of his composition, “A Dakota Rhapsody,” which will be performed by the MSU Wind Ensemble during its Friday evening concert.

Nola Jones is the coordinator for visual and performing arts for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. She previously served as director of bands and associate professor of music at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Before joining the UT Martin faculty, she served as assistant director and assistant professor of music education at Northern Arizona University. Jones has appeared nationally in 38 states and internationally in Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and Singapore. She currently serves as music judge liaison for Drum Corps International.

Jeff Mathews is director of bands and professor of music at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. In addition to conducting the wind ensemble, he manages all aspects of the Spirit of Northwestern Marching Band and serves as director of summer music classes. Additionally, Mathews is functional manager of the Air National Guard band program nationwide. He also serves as principal advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Division and National Guard Bureau of Public Affairs on matters pertaining to Air National Guard Bands. 

Additional information about the 2016 honor band clinic is available by calling 662-325-2713 or visiting Lance also may be contacted directly at

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