Scot Symphonic Band to Perform in McGaw Chapel on May 1

Free Concert Set to Begin at 2:30 p.m.

28 April, 2016 by Sarah Stanley

WOOSTER, Ohio — The sights and sounds of Scotland will descend upon McGaw Chapel when The College of Wooster’s Scot Symphonic Band performs in concert on Sunday, May 1, at 2:30 p.m. (340 E. University St.). Admission is free and open to the public.

The concert will feature music prepared since returning from a 5-state concert tour in March, and will pay tribute to the 16 graduating senior members of the band, all of whom have contributed substantively to the band program, both musically and personally.

Directed by Nancy Ditmer and assisted by Ned Brooks and Ben Herrick, the band has entertained audiences nationwide during its annual spring tour since 1976. The ensemble’s distinctive uniforms, which consist of kilts with hand-sewn pleats made from the College’s MacLeod tartan plaid, represent Wooster’s Scottish Presbyterian heritage.

The upcoming concert will feature music of various styles and genres representative of substantive wind band literature. The concert opens with Robert Sheldon’s “Flight of the Piasa,” commissioned by the Alton (Ill.) High School Band conducted by David W. Drillinger. It is a powerful musical depiction of the legendary Piasa, an enormous winged creature that is a legend in the Alton area.

Also on the program are contrasting works of British and American composers. Malcolm Arnold’s “Prelude, Siciliano and Rondo,” originally composed for British brass band, retains the breezy effervescence of the original in John Paynter’s arrangement for concert band. Joseph Wilcox Jenkins’ “American Overture for Band” was composed for the United States Army Field Band and calls for near virtuoso playing by several sections, especially the horns. The work is a high-energy expression of bold optimism that never loses its rhythmic energy and puts every section of the band in the spotlight.

Other selections include Samuel Hazo’s  “Perthshire Majesty,” a Scottish ballad reflective of the family heritage of David Gregory, conductor of the Tara Winds of Atlanta, for whom the piece was written; “Folk Dances” by Dmitri Shostakovich, which is filled with the joy and exuberance of the Russian people. The many folk melodies are drawn together from native folk songs collected by Shostakovich and are assembled in a string so that musical energy abounds.

Elliott Valentine, a graduating senior with a double major in history and sociology from Mason, Ohio, will perform the second and third movements of “Concerto for Trombone and Band” by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Valentine has been active in music throughout his time at Wooster. In addition to holding the principal trombone position in the Symphonic Band for the past four years, he has been a regular member of the Mercury Brass Quintet and the Wooster Brass and has participated in the Wooster Symphony Orchestra and the Wooster Jazz Ensemble. Other interests include the Cross-Cultural Connections and Common Grounds Programs. In addition, he was inducted into the sociology honor society, Alpha Kappa Delta.

No Scot Band concert would be complete without the music of Scotland, featuring the bagpipers, Scottish drummers, and Highland dancers.

Nancy Ditmer has enjoyed a prodigious 32-year career as a music educator and conductor at Wooster, and as a leading advocate for music education and performance at the elementary, middle, and high school levels across the country. Ditmer recently returned to full-time teaching after completing a two-year term as president of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). She received her Master of Arts degree from The University of Iowa where she also completed coursework for the Ph.D., and her Bachelor of Music Education degree at Capital University where in April she received the 2016 Alumni Achievement Award in recognition of her notable accomplishments in the profession of music education as well as her service to Capital University.

Ned Brooks is in his 20th year as an associate director for the band program at Wooster, where he assists with the Marching and Symphonic Bands.  He received a Bachelor of Science degree in music education from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree from Kent State University.  He also serves as music director of St. James Episcopal Church in Wooster, where he coordinates a noontime Brown Bag concert series, which is now in its 38th year.

Ben Herrick is in his first year as director of the Scot Marching Band at Wooster where he also leads a New Orleans Jazz Band and assists with the Symphonic Band. Prior to that, he taught for nine years as a public school band director in grades 5-12 in two school districts in Northwest Ohio.  He earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Toledo and a Master of Music Education degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. 

Additional information is available by phone (330-263-2419) or by email.

The College of Wooster is America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research. By working one-on-one with a faculty adviser to conceive, organize, and complete an original research project, written work, performance or art exhibit, every Wooster student develops independent judgment, analytical ability, creativity, project-management and time-management skills, and strong written and oral communication skills. Founded in 1866, the college enrolls approximately 2,000 students.