Daniel David Black, Lakeland College assistant professor of music and director of choral activities, recently served as guest conductor for one piece at New Holstein High School’s Spring Choral Concert.
“I had a really great time,” he said. “It was a fun piece, and I just love what I do. Working with young people is so rewarding, and they sang very well. The auditorium was packed, the audience was into it and it was a very positive experience.”
The piece Black guest conducted was “Ritmo,” an upbeat Spanish number by contemporary composer Dan Davison. April Thuecks, New Holstein’s middle school and high school choral and general music teacher and a 2010 Lakeland College graduate, was one of two pianists for the number. The other was 2014 Lakeland grad and regular New Holstein High School accompanist Thomas Pibal, giving the performance a distinct Lakeland flavor.
“That Lakeland connection made it especially rewarding,” Black said. “It’s great to see former Lakeland students use their degrees, share their skills and give back to our communities.”
Black, who’s finishing up his first year at Lakeland, enjoys reaching out to local and regional high schools and “offering up my services,” strengthening bridges between those schools and Lakeland.
When Thuecks asked Black if he’d be interested in guest conducting “Ritmo,” he jumped at the chance. He spent about 10 hours studying the piece, practicing the conducting and infusing his interpretation into it. He then enjoyed two 50-minute rehearsals with the New Holstein students. The hard work apparently paid off.
“I think the students really responded well to my style of rehearsing and conducting,” Black said. “By all accounts, from what I heard from the students and from April, it was a very positive experience for everyone involved.
“I really enjoy working with new groups of people and helping them make music at their highest potential. I really do have a great job.”