Band director makes debut with traditional Americana program
The Lakeland College band offered a traditional Americana program last Wednesday, Oct. 2 at the annual Fall Band Concert.
Under the new direction of director Christopher Werner, the program included John Philip Sousa's "Hands Across the Sea" march, William Schuman's "Chester" Overture, "October" by Eric Whitacre, Rover Jager's "Esprit de Corps" and the Lakeland College alma mater and fight song.
Werner said he wanted to bring together themes from his background and that each piece represented something significant.
Sousa, one of the early directors of the U.S. Marine Band, is known throughout America as "The March King," and his march, "Hands Across the Sea," is a not-often-heard gem in the band repertoire.
"This piece was in scripted with the subtitle: ‘A sudden thought strikes me; let us swear eternal friendship,' and from this I take a smile and acknowledgement of the new friends I've made here and their helpfulness in my transition to Lakeland," Werner said.
William Schuman's "Chester" is a full overture based on the Revolutionary War hymn by William Billings of the same name. Originally conceived for orchestra as a three-movement suite, the final movement, "Chester", got a band makeover in Wednesday night's version, which was a stable of the band repertoire.
Werner also had direct ties to Whitacre's "October." It was written for a group of high schools and universities in Nebraska just before he arrived there to work on his doctorate. Headed by Brian Anderson, the band director at Freemont High School, the work has become an instant classic in the world of concert band.
"To me, this piece tied in the entire program…friendship, education, time, sentiment," Werner said. "The title works chronologically, the themes work musically, it fit for homecoming and our band played the heck out of it."
Prior to coming to Lakeland, Werner spent eight years as instrumental music teacher and music department chair at la Crosse Central High School He was conductor of the Central Wind Ensemble, pep band, Grand Central Station Show Band, instructor of music theory, and he team-taught the Red Raider Marching Band.
He is president for the National Band Association-Wisconsin Chapter. He has twice been awarded the "Citation of Excellence" by the National Band Association-Wisconsin Chapter.
Werner holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Wind Conducting from the University of Nebraska. He has the distinction of being the first University of Nebraska DMA recipient of the Wind Conduction degree and also the first Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts F. Pace Woods Scholar in Music. He also holds a bachelor's degree in music education from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master of music degree in wind conduction from UW-Milwaukee.
Werner was active in commissioning new works for wind band. His Central bands participated in or organized consortiums with new music by several contemporary composers, and ensembles under his direction appeared at numerous state conventions in Wisconsin and Nebraska.
He is an accomplished clarinetist, serving as assistant principal clarinet for the La Crosse Concert Band, principal/assistant principal clarinet with UW-La Crosse Choral Union and substitute assistant principal clarinet with the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra.
Lakeland senior wins teaching scholarship
Aimee Thrune, a Lakeland College senior from Prairie du Sac, Wis., is one of 46 winners nationally of a $5,000 Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) STEM Teachers for America’s Future Scholarship. Thrune is majoring in math, Spanish and education at Lakeland.
The AFCEA Educational Foundation offers scholarships of $5,000 to students actively pursuing a degree for the purpose of teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) subjects at a U.S. middle or secondary school.
“Aimee is an excellent student and a very bright mathematician,” said Heather Molle, Lakeland College assistant professor of mathematics. “She is quick to answer questions I pose to the class, and can also explain her answer to other students. I believe she will be an amazing math teacher. She has a passion for both mathematics and learning.”
Thrune is a standout performer in the classroom, and an active leader and participant in a number of campus activities.
As a junior, Thrune was named the college’s Mathematics Student of the Year and received Who's Who of American Colleges honors. This past June, she studied abroad in Columbia, and taught basketball to a group of Columbian students in their gym class. She also tutors area high school students.
She is a three-year letterwinner on the Lakeland women’s basketball team, and this year is serving as a team captain. She is also on the golf team. She is president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, president of Math Club, treasurer of the Spanish Club and a member of the Lakeland College-Community Activities Board and Student Association.
She works as a resident assistant for Morland House and as a campus ambassador for the college’s admissions department, giving tours to prospective students and parents.
In addition to this scholarship, Thrune also receives the Kuehn Achievement Scholarship.
Women’s tennis team raises money for Safe Harbor
KOHLER – Victoria Powelson hails from Ishpeming, Mich., but judging by her proud smile late Tuesday afternoon, the top women's tennis player at Lakeland College feels quite connected to Sheboygan County.
"This is amazing," said Powelson, a sophomore. "To help the community while I'm playing the game I love is a really special feeling."
Lakeland shut out Wisconsin Lutheran 9-0 on a bright, crisp afternoon to finish 11-2 and cap its best season ever. But as the match wound down, much of the discussion was about the Muskies' fund-raising effort for Safe Harbor of Sheboygan County.
The players' final donation will exceed $2,000, and next week, Lakeland's entire team will make the short drive from Lakeland's campus to Sheboygan to present Safe Harbor with a check.
"Community service is extremely important," said Lakeland senior tennis player Erica Hoffmann, a Sheboygan Falls native. "Young people have so much potential to help their communities, because they have so much idealism and enthusiasm. It's crucial to tap into that energy."
For the past week, that's exactly what Lakeland's tennis players did, collecting pledges for Safe Harbor – a refuge for victims of sexual and domestic abuse. Supporters of the players had the option of making a flat donation or pledging a certain amount of money for each game won. Earlier Tuesday, a couple of players set up a table at Lakeland's dining facility so fellow students could make pledges.
"We grabbed every kid we could," said Powelson. "I think we raised about $400 just at lunch. And even the students who couldn't make a pledge were very supportive of what we were doing."
Added Hoffmann: "The really cool thing I've noticed is how willing people are to give to a worthy cause. This brought our whole school together. The faculty really got involved, and we had a large number of students out here today cheering us on."
Even before the afternoon's first serve, the pledged total, based on flat pledges, was $817. Lakeland's dominant performance raised that figure significantly and steadily into early evening.
"I couldn't be more proud of this team," said Lakeland College head coach Casey Carr, a former Sheboygan North and Lakeland standout tennis player. "This wonderful group of student-athletes is really making a difference in our community.
"Today was a perfect example of what we are supposed to teach young adults. It wasn't just the tennis team that raised the money. It was the students, the faculty, the professors and the athletic department. This is what Lakeland College and being a liberal arts college is all about." Lakeland College Interim President Dan Eck, who attended the match, said he was extremely impressed by the players' philanthropic spirit, but not surprised. "This is the type of student Lakeland attracts," he said. "They think about more than just themselves." Laura Roenitz, executive director at Safe Harbor of Sheboygan County, said community donations make up more than 50 percent of the nonprofit organization's budget. She added that this contribution will be used to support direct client services such as providing food and shelter, and that because food and shelter supplies are running low, "This could not have come at a better time."
Last year, Roenitz said, Safe Harbor of Sheboygan County served 664 individuals and 464 households and supplied 4,000 nights of shelter for direct and indirect victims of sexual assault or domestic abuse.
"We are thrilled with the results, and this really demonstrates these young women's tremendous commitment to our community," said Roenitz of the Lakeland tennis team's effort. "It's not only a great example of their community stewardship, but also speaks highly of the education they're receiving. It is clear to me that connecting students to the community is very important at Lakeland College."
On the court, these are the best of times for Lakeland's women's tennis team. Just 1-36 from 2006-2011 and 6-7 last season, the Muskies are now surging. They were predicted to finish eighth in their conference this fall, but locked up second place with Tuesday's win.
Young standouts like Powelson and fellow sophomore Lynn Pipke, along with seasoned players like Hoffmann and fellow seniors Brittany Jurek and Jenna Oberthaler, have the program surging under the steady coaching hand of Carr.
On Tuesday, Powelson won her No. 1 singles match 6-0, 6-0 over an opponent who hadn't previously lost in conference play. But after her win, the player who likes to be called "Tor" seemed more proud of her team's contribution to Safe Harbor than her own dominant performance.
"Helping others is huge," she said. "Giving back is so important. I can't wait to do this again next year and I think we will do even better."
If you would like to contribute to Safe Harbor of Sheboygan, call 1-800-499-7640
Classroom on the dance floor
For three consecutive class periods on Wednesday morning, Lakeland College Spanish instructor Elizabeth Shumway's students convened on a makeshift dance floor – the school's basketball court.
Then they got their dance on. Paying homage to National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Shumway invited Milwaukee-based professional dancer and instructor Dennis Lopez to teach students in her beginning, intermediate and advanced Spanish classes. Lopez' hour-long sessions included popular dances such as Cha-Cha-Cha, Salsa and Bachata.
"Latin dance is an integral part of Hispanic culture," said Shumway. "Of course grammar and vocabulary are important, but this is a different form of communication and I wanted our students to experience this important piece of culture."
Lopez, who will perform with his band, Spanglish, during "Festive Fridays" on Friday night at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, enthusiastically taught the dozens of Lakeland College Spanish students the basic footwork and movement of Latin dance. A native of Puerto Rico, Lopez smiled often as he explained how correct steps have the rhythm of a heartbeat. He said celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month through dance is a great way for people to understand the culture.
"This type of dancing literally changes people's lives," Lopez said. "It's not only a hobby; it's a passion. It's a way to exercise and a great social outlet. It's something different to do than going to a nightclub and getting drunk. This brings people together. I have stood up in weddings for people who met through this type of dance."
Lakeland junior Catherine Benzie, from Iron Mountain, Mich., said she really enjoyed the lessons. So much so, in fact, that she plans to ask some friends if they'd like to learn more of this type of dancing together. "It was very different, and I've never really experienced anything like it before," Benzie said. "It was a lot of fun and I'd encourage anyone to try it."
See more photos on our Facebook page.
Black Violin and The Moxie Strings coming back to Lakeland
Strings will be the thing as Lakeland College opens its 2013-14 Krueger Fine Arts Series on Friday, Sept. 27. Black Violin – the wildly popular group that had students buzzing in 2010 – returns to the Bradley Theatre stage, along with special guest The Moxie Strings.
The show begins at 7:30 p.m. with The Moxie Strings. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for non-Lakeland students, and can be purchased in advance by contacting Deb Fale at 920-565-1536 or at the door.
Black Violin played to a packed Bradley Theatre in the fall of 2010. The duo of Wilner "Wil B" Baptiste and Kevin "Kev Marcus" Sylvester combines the eloquence and proficiency of classical orchestra strings, and forges it with the vibes and smooth flows of hip-hop. Black Violin creates a sound that is refreshing and uplifting to hip-hop lovers and classical string enthusiasts. Their ability to blend the two genres flawlessly promises an evening that everyone is guaranteed to feel.
A review in the New York Times said, "Black Violin works hard, but makes it all look like play…Sometimes they play with the intense seriousness of orchestral soloists; at others they fiddle as if at a hoedown; at still others they strum the violin and viola like guitars."
Black Violin has worked alongside many talented artists and groups, including Linkin Park, Akon and Wu-Tang Clan. The smooth duo has also collaborated with the likes of P. Diddy, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Tom Petty, Aerosmith and many more.
The Moxie Strings is a fun, energetic crew that delivers a large dose of feel good. Between their upbeat string style and their natural on-stage charisma, the group gives a new spin to bluegrass, Celtic, Canadian, rock, jazz and old time through a young perspective that is rooted in tradition. The Moxie Strings brings a unique bravura fashioned by the electrifying combination of fiddle player Diana Ladio and electric cellist Alison Lynn. The duo is joined on stage by world percussionist Fritz McGirr, who adds a dynamic sound with his creative rhythmic energy.
Away from the stage, the group travels the country jumping from classroom to classroom to spend time introducing new genres of music to beginning high school and middle school string students. The group will be giving a free workshop to Lakeland music students and area school music students earlier in the day. The Moxie Strings was also honored as the featured artists/clinicians for MSBOA's first annual Alternative Styles Day.