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Alpena High band earns state’s highest honor

Courtesy Photo Band Director Mike Gozzard leads the Alpena High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble in a performance at Band Festival 2020 in Standish.

The Alpena High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble has been selected to perform at the 2021 Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids at Devos Performance Hall. This is the highest honor in the state for a band, orchestra, or choir.

To be selected, groups are nominated and blind auditioned by a panel of judges that listen to multiple live recordings. Along with the recordings, ensembles must submit letters of recommendation and success history of the group, such as Band Festival scores, AHS Band Director Mike Gozzard said.

“During my own personal high school and college years, I had great opportunities to perform all over the country in places like Lincoln Center in New York, Denver Jazz Festival, Orlando, Hill Auditorium,” Gozzard said. “With that being said, I have taken more pride and joy out of the success of my students these past five years over anything that I accomplished before. Being selected to perform at the Michigan Music Conference ranks right up there and has been a goal of mine since I attended the conference as a young student.”

He went on to explain the prestige of this honor.

“At the MMC each year, you will typically see bands selected to perform from Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids areas,” Gozzard said. “I graduated from Ann Arbor Huron myself and they were selected last year. To be in their top band, you are also required to study privately with a local instructor or college professor and use a professional model instrument. For me, that just makes Alpena HS being selected even more impressive. I truly believe that the band program here is one of the best things APS has going for itself that stacks up against the big city powers around the state. The band students in Alpena are great people that work extremely hard for themselves and each other. Now it’s time to get this show on the road.”

The Michigan Music Conference includes thousands of collegiate and K-12 educators, students, speakers, and vendors each year. The 2021 AHS Wind Ensemble performance is scheduled for Jan. 29.

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