For high school students wishing to get a head start on their music career, the annual Festival of Winds at Colorado State University- Pueblo took place for high school students across Colorado and neighboring states.
The festival was started nine years ago by professor Alan Mills, who wanted to give young musicians the opportunity to play in an honor band, even if some of them may not be considered for a traditional honor band.
“Most honor bands are based on auditions,” said professor Ryan Van Gilder, organizer of this year’s festival. “The band directors nominate these students to the festival which allows some of the students who may not make the other honor bands an opportunity to develop.”
Students who play wind instruments and percussion instruments are nominated by their school band directors, who then audition for one of four symphonic or orchestral bands.
“The experience that these students get playing with students from other schools and learning from the conductors and music department faculty is very valuable in their development as young musicians,” said Van Gilder.
Alena Akse, a student attending Manitou Springs High School, was at CSU-Pueblo auditioning with a group of her peers.
“It’s mostly people from Southern Colorado auditioning,” she said, “but people come from all over.”
The festival allows high school students to perform in a large group, as well as get in front of CSU-P professors and show off their talents.
“The students who are seniors and make the select Wind Orchestras are offered scholarships to attend CSU-Pueblo in the fall,” said Van Gilder.
This year, there were more than 360 participants taking place in the festival, with thirteen different instruments that they could audition for.
After auditioning, students were then placed into symphonic or orchestral bands, and compete for positions in their respective sections.
Akse, who was there auditioning with a clarinet, was hoping to get placed in a high seat in one of the orchestral bands.
“Getting top chair, that would be fantastic,” she said.
After participants were given their individual placements and chairs in their respective sections, the United States Air Force Academy concert band played for the students. In past years, the faculty, the Fountain Creek Bass Band, and the University Wind Ensemble have all played for the festival.
According to the festival’s website, the event also sees support from Colorado organizations, such as Marck Time Music, Percussion Concepts, and the Colorado Institute of Musical Technology, who all maintained booths for students this year.
After being assigned their places in their respective bands, participants then left to practice before finally going to perform at the Sangre De Cristo Arts Center.
Any high schools wishing to enter the festival of winds can access the application and find information on the CSU-Pueblo website.