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Wind Ensemble embarks on winter tour


Traveling to the Sandhills, the UNK Wind Ensemble played four concerts at host high schools
By Braydon Conell

The Wind Ensemble departed for its annual tour on the morning of Feb. 1 after a home preview concert the night before. The group performed at four area high schools: two near Kearney and two in the Sandhills.

The tour kicked off with an early morning concert in Aurora, shortly followed by another in Central City before departing for the Sandhills to perform the next day in Ainsworth and Valentine.

The UNK Wind Ensemble is an audition-entry music ensemble. For the Spring 2018 semester, the group boasts 43 students ranging from first-year college freshmen to a few graduate students coming from two different countries.

Of these students, 14 (nearly 33 percent of the ensemble) are not music majors and simply auditioned for the joy of playing music. For this diverse group of musicians, going on tour each year goes beyond just playing for a different crowd than normal.


“I see the main reasons for touring as public outreach for the University, a way for recruiting both for the band and UNK in general. It’s a great way to foster deeper musical and interpersonal connection among the members of the group,” said Dr. Duane Bierman, director of bands at UNK and the conductor for the wind ensemble.

For Bierman, the best part of tour is “being in each and every moment on tour; many months of planning go into each trip…to experience all aspects of the trip after so much prep work is a great feeling.”

Going on tour also takes learning outside the classroom, said Sydney Wilson, a freshman music education major from Minden. “Tour really solidified my abilities to adjust no matter the situation. No auditorium is created the same, and something is always going to go wrong. To learn how to adapt to different situations [will be useful] in both performance and in life.” Adapting to a new situation could not have been truer for those performing in Ainsworth, which featured an auditorium decked out in groovy 1970s décor.

There was one special surprise during the tour: guest conductors for Holst and Sousa pieces.

In Ainsworth, the guest conductor and band instructor was Mrs. Kim Bejot. While conducting, Bejot expressed so much joy and passion for music. “I absolutely love it! It is so much fun to conduct a well-rounded ensemble,” Bejot said. Members of the Wind Ensemble reacted to Bejot’s direction with more pride and energy than the “Washington Post” piece by Sousa had seen all year.

Miranda Niemeier, a freshman music education major and tenor saxophone player from Omaha, said, “I felt so empowered playing that song; it was so much fun!”

Kim Bejot was in good company with the other guest conductors. Dan Sodomka in Aurora conducted the first movement of the Holst “2nd Suite” and Tammy Russell in Valentine led the “Washington Post”; both of these guests were also band instructors.

The final leg of the tour took place in Valentine. However, the time there did not end after the concert. Instead, the group stuck around and joined the high school students at the basketball game against the Gothenburg Swedes. Playing tunes such as “Sweet Caroline,” “Hey Baby!” and “The Horse” brought back a lot of memories for the UNK students. They also helped the Valentine students improve on their notes, rhythms and musicality.

After a long drive back from Valentine, the UNK wind ensemble pulled into the FAB parking lot, excited to finally work on some new music selections. The UNK Wind Ensemble’s upcoming performances take place on March 8 at Kearney High School and a joint concert with UNK’s Symphonic Band on April 12.


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