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Award-winning Symphonic Band performs around the world

March 27, 2008

The UW-River Falls Symphonic Band stands out internationally and in the music world. The 40-member band won an award for an outstanding performance at the annual National Band Association (NBA) conference in January.

  Associate professor of music Kristin Tjornehoj’s former director, Fred Nylin, served as the guest conductor for the award-winning performance. Andrew Parks, horn instructor at UWRF, served as the guest soloist for a work composed by John Zdechlik. The band also performed “Quetzalcoatl,” which was composed by music professor J. Michael Roy.

  “My favorite would probably be Mr. Roy’s pieces. We played his ‘Northern Lights March’ and premiered his piece, ‘Quetzalcoatl,’” third-year band student Eleanor Peterson said. “Both pieces are very fun yet challenging to play, and it is neat to actually play a professional piece composed by our own professor.”

  Tjornehoj, the director, recently won her own award. The Citation of Excellence is a special honor presented to music directors who work with special ensembles. The award was presented to her at the NBA for leading the symphony ensemble. She also received another Citation of Excellence for working with the Minnesota Music Educators Association’s All-State Orchestra in February.

  The band has toured to New York City, Madison, Iceland and France to perform.

  “I participated in the New York City trip in May 2006. The next tour is happening in late May through early June, and the band will be traveling to Prague,” Peterson said. “It was originally for the band, but Tjornehoj opened up the opportunity to members of the community.”

  “In New York, we played in two veterans’ homes and at St. Paul’s Chapel, which is down the street from Ground Zero. Those performances were very moving,” Peterson said.

  The band was also asked to perform in Madison in October 2006 to represent the University at the Wisconsin Music Educators Association convention. In addition, the band was asked to perform at the NBA convention in Wisconsin Rapids in January.

  “With tours like New York City and Prague, we perform, but we are also able to explore the city. Dr. Tjornehoj sets up many tours of famous places, such as Lincoln Center and Radio City Music Hall, which are both heavily related to music,” Peterson said. “We always have a great time, no matter how far away from home we travel.”

  Future performances in the William Abbott Concert Hall located in Kleinpell Fine Arts include the Annual Commissioned Composer concert April 10, featuring work from Marc Mellits. The last concert of the year is April 28 and will include the “Quetzalcoatl” performance.

  “As far as our long-term goals, we are starting up a new chapter of NBA at our school, being led by Tjornehoj and student Jeremy Semler. We are also looking for more new members to come and share their talents,” Peterson said.