Young Community Members and the Lakeside Band Festival with Dr. James Ripley
By Madison Kobe ’18
At Carthage, we always want to be involved in the growth of community members, such as high school students. The music department does this by inviting schools to participate in a variety of festivals, including the Lakeside Band Festival. Dr. James Ripley was happy to share his perspective and experience with his involvement in the festival.
Tell me a little bit about the history of the Lakeside Band Festival. How long has it been a tradition at Carthage? How has the festival grown in recent years?
We began the Lakeside Band Festival in 2002 as a way for our region’s exceptional instrumentalists to interact with some of the country’s top professional performers and composers. That first festival featured Larry Combs, who was the principal clarinet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and since that time we have invited award-winning composers from not only the United States, but also the Netherlands and Australia to conduct the band, and have had soloists ranging from our own outstanding Carthage faculty to the principal trumpet of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. We’ve also added visits by the artists to schools in the area as masterclasses.
What is your involvement in the festival?
My involvement is to arrange for the artists, schedule the events, and work with the area band directors to recruit students to participate in the festival honor band.
Why do you believe it is important to continue the tradition of hosting Lakeside Band Festival?
Each year brings a new experience for the students who participate, so the learning opportunities are ever changing.
How do the visiting bands benefit from participating in the festival?
Bands that participate in the clinic process, where the artists visit the school, are given insight into the music making and creative aspects of performance. Students who participate in the festival band get an intensive, in-depth experience with the composer in realizing their own music.
How many students have attended Carthage as a result of the festival?
It varies from year to year, but there are typically 3-4 each year. Over time I’d guess there have been 40 or so.
What challenge(s), if any, have you faced with coordinating this event?
In the early years we had a difficult time finding the right weekend where students would be able to attend. We alternated between November and February, but now have kept the second week of November reserved for the Lakeside Band Festival.
What is your favorite part of being involved in the lakeside band festival?
My favorite part is seeing how the students interact and “turn on” for the composers; they get so involved and invested with the music, and it is satisfying to see that passion.
What would you like to see in the future for the festival? How would you further develop and grow it to make the experience the best it can possibly be for attending ensembles?
An event such as this really is based on consistency, rather than change. The area band directors know what is involved in the Lakeside Band Festival now, so we have a really good partnership going. One might think we’d like more students to be involved with the festival honor band, but the chapel can really only hold just a few more than one hundred on the floor so more students really isn’t an option.
What advice would you give to a student considering a career in the performing arts?
Learn your craft, study the art form, perform honestly & lift - not provoke - your audience.
The Finale Concert for the15th annual Lakeside Band Festival will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11 in the A. F. Siebert Chapel.
The guest conductor is Chicago-based composer James M. Stephenson. Leading American orchestras, instrumentalists, and wind ensembles around the world have performed the music of Mr. Stephenson, both to critical acclaim and the delight of audiences. The Concert will include several selections by Mr. Stephenson conducting the Festival Band, as well as the Carthage Wind Orchestra. Featured soloist will be oboist Erica Anderson, performing Stephenson’s “Duels and Dances”.
For more information, contact the Fine Arts Office at 262-551-5859.