Contact: Sasha Steinberg
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Musicianship, leadership and service is the motto of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity. An associate professor in Mississippi State’s Department of Music who exhibits those same characteristics is being honored by the organization in a special way.
Craig Aarhus, the university’s senior associate director of bands, now is namesake of the Sponsor/Band Director Excellence Award, given each year to one chapter sponsor or college band director in Kappa Kappa Psi’s Southeast District.
Aarhus was initiated into Kappa Kappa Psi as an undergraduate student at Auburn University in 1993. He is co-adviser of the fraternity’s fifth oldest chapter at MSU and has served since 2011 as the Southeast District’s governor, or adviser.
“This was a complete surprise and is humbling to say the least,” Aarhus said. “You don’t serve in a role like this expecting recognition, but it is nice when it comes along. This organization has given me so much, and I am very appreciative of this special acknowledgement.”
Founded on the campus of Oklahoma State University in 1919, Kappa Kappa Psi operates primarily as a student service and leadership recognition society. With more than 200 active chapters across the country, the organization works to assist college and university directors of bands in developing organized service activities and other leadership experiences. For more, visit https://kkpsi.org.
Aarhus said the Sponsor/Band Director Excellence Award recognizes those who have made a significant impact on students’ success throughout the year. Kappa Kappa Psi chapters nominate potential recipients, and the winners are honored during the Southeast District’s annual convention.
“Generally, recipients are people who are very involved in the work of their chapters on campus—helping coordinate projects, advising on chapter matters, making sure that they are fulfilling their roles within the band program,” he said. “They are very supportive of the work that Kappa Kappa Psi does within their band programs.”
An MSU faculty member since 2003, Aarhus co-directs the Famous Maroon Band and basketball pep bands, conducts the concert and campus/community bands, and teaches conducting and brass techniques courses in the music department. He is part of a team that has lead MSU’s band program to unprecedented growth, making it one of the largest bands in the Southeast.
Aarhus, a native of Sylacauga, Alabama, received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Auburn University and his Master of Arts and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in conducting from the University of Iowa. Prior to his appointment at MSU, he was a successful band director in the public schools of Lanett, Tallassee, and Mobile, Alabama.
A member of the College Band Directors National Association, Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Mu Alpha, Tau Beta Sigma and the Mississippi Bandmasters Association, Aarhus also is president of the Delta Chapter of Phi Beta Mu International Bandmasters Fraternity.
Serving since 2007 as music director at First Presbyterian Church in Starkville, Aarhus has been an adjudicator and clinician throughout the Southeast, Midwest and Canada. He has received multiple awards for excellence in teaching, research and service, including Kappa Kappa Psi’s A. Frank Martin Award in 2017.
Professor and Head Barry E. Kopetz said MSU’s music department is proud that Kappa Kappa Psi has named one of its awards for Aarhus.
“This honor indicates in a tangible manner that Dr. Aarhus possesses the characteristics embodied within the award, reflected by his long-term positive work with college musicians,” Kopetz said. “He is a credit to the instrumental music profession and to Mississippi State University.”
Learn more about MSU’s Epsilon Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi at www.kkp.org.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.