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AHS Wind Ensemble heading to Michigan Music Conference

News Photos by Darby Hinkley Above, the Alpena High School Wind Ensemble performs a preview concert on Thursday in the AHS auditorium.

ALPENA — A year after they were supposed to go, a group of talented young musicians will get a chance to perform this month in Grand Rapids.

The Alpena High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble will perform at the Michigan Music Conference at DeVos Performance Hall in downtown Grand Rapids Jan. 27 to 29. The performance is at 10 a.m. on Jan. 28.

They qualified last year under the direction of Michael Gozzard, and this year’s new band director Brad Beyer will direct them in the performance, postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday night, Beyer directed the band in a preview concert at the AHS Stanley C. Beck Auditorium. The band played the same music they will perform at the Jan. 28 concert in Grand Rapids.

“These students have put in an incredible amount of work, especially under the direction of their fine previous director, Mr. Mike Gozzard,” Beyer said at the concert. “And they went through an elaborate process of auditioning.”

Above, from left, AHS Band Director Brad Beyer, Flora Patterson on oboe, Kegan Sharako on clarinet, Madison Shearer on bassoon, and Erin McCourt on euphonium, in a band concert on Thursday at Alpena High School.

He said the AHS Wind Ensemble was selected from a pool of bands that auditioned from all over the state.

“They go through a rigorous scrutiny process, and they were selected as one of the bands that was chosen to perform at last year’s Michigan Music Conference,” Beyer said. “It’s really a high honor.”

Trumpet players Logan DenBleyker and William Bushey, both juniors, talked about how excited they were to be a part of this talented group of young musicians.

“We qualified two years ago, and that is because we did extremely well during our concert season,” DenBleyker said. “It’s a huge event, and it’s a huge deal.”

“All the band directors sent in recordings of the band playing,” Bushey added. “And he took a shot in the dark, Mr. Gozzard, and we got picked. And last year’s was canceled, so now we’re here.”

Trumpet players Logan DenBleyker and William Bushey pose prior to the concert.

“It’s a great honor,” DenBleyker said. “Though it is kind of sad that some of the seniors that were there that year do not get to perform. They missed that opportunity.”

Both trumpet players have been playing since sixth grade.

“It’s just been a nice hobby and passion of mine,” DenBleyker said, who prefers concert season.

Bushey’s favorite is marching band season.

“I love getting everybody riled up, especially during marching band season,” he said. “It’s fun.”

Nick Lusardi entertains on saxophone prior to the concert, accompanied on piano by Connor Caplis.

“It’s unfortunate that, because of the COVID situation, they were not able to perform this last January,” Beyer said. “But, again, thankfully it’s been able to be extended to this year, and it has been my privilege, as the incoming band director this year, to work with these incredible students who have worked so hard to prepare a very rigorous performance.”

He continued talking about his pride in the band and their musical talents.

“I hope this will be a celebration of musical excellence in Alpena,” Beyer added. “It’s just really exciting.”

“We’re all here to play music, have a good time, and enjoy each other’s company,” Bushey said.

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