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The 33rd Annual Festival of Bands will take place Tuesday, Nov. 2, at Loogootee High School in the Jack Butcher Arena beginning at 7 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public.

The Festival of Bands currently consists of six area school bands. These bands include: Barr-Reeve High School Band under the direction of Stephanie O’Brian, Loogootee High School Band under the direction of Amy Hamm, Mitchell High School Band under the direction of Zachary Tibbs, North Daviess High School Band under the direction of Jeff Vandermel, Shoals High School Band under the direction of Joel Weitkamp, and South Knox High School Band under the direction of Jennifer Erickson. The festival was started 33 years ago by retired directors, Betsy Graves and Joyce Kim-Rohrer.

The vision for the festival was to give students the opportunity to work with a prominent guest conductor and play in a large mass band. Many of the area schools are smaller bands due to the size of the schools and certain music cannot be played due to the smaller school instrumentation. The festival allows for the students to get more experience with different types of music. As the festival became stronger, the directors began commissioning works for the event. The directors have commissioned: “The Spirit Soars” by James Curnow (2003), “Shadows of the Equinox” by Robert Sheldon (2010), “Dance of Chivalry” by Matt Conaway (2013), and the most recent, “Mirror March” by Benjamin Taylor (2017). The goal for commissioning was to give the students at least one chance in their high school career to be a part of the music making process and to meet a prominent composer.

Beyond commissioning, there has been several guest soloists for the event. In 2000, professional saxophonist Paul Bro was the guest soloist. In 2001, a local professional musician and Loogootee graduate Melissa Williams on tuba. In 2002, Director of Bands and Music Department Chair at Vincennes University Sharon Jackson on marimba. The group has also created an Honor Jazz Band for the event as well. Students from all six bands are invited to submit an application to be a part of the jazz band. The students are chosen on the basis of their application and recommendation of their directors.

The guest conductor this year is Janis Stockhouse. Stockhouse recently retired after 38 years as director of bands at Bloomington High School North in Bloomington, Indiana. Prior to that position she served as the North Vermillion Junior-Senior High School band and choral director for four years. She received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where she studied trumpet with William Adam and Louis Davidson. She earned her Masters in Music degree at Indiana State University. Her mentors include David N. Baker, Ray E. Cramer, William Revelli, Dominic Spera, Ron Modell and Stephen W. Pratt.

At Bloomington North, Stockhouse conducted the symphonic band, intermediate concert band, advanced and lab jazz ensembles, and taught AP music theory. She also served as assistant director for the Cougar marching band, directed the basketball pep band and oversaw the jazz combo program.

During her tenure at Bloomington High School North, the advanced jazz ensemble performed at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in 1982, 1987, 2008, and 2018. Her jazz bands and combos also were invited to perform at the IAJE and JEN annual conventions on seven occasions. In 2002, the jazz ensemble and top concert band toured Europe for two weeks of concerts culminating with performances at the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Mid-Europe Music Clinic. The Cougar Marching Band has appeared in the Tournament of Roses Parade as well as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Bloomington North’s Symphonic Band qualified for the ISSMA State Concert Finals 33 out of 35 years with two state championships and 30 top eight finishes.

Stockhouse is a member and past president of the Indiana Bandmasters Association, a member of IMEA/NAFME, a member of Phi Beta Mu, a member of JEN, and was a board member for IAJE. She was named the 1997 Outstanding Music Educator of the year by IMEA, the 2005 Educator of the year by the Bloomington Area Arts Council, was recipient of the 2007 Al Cobine Award, and was presented with the 2007 Outstanding Bandmaster Award by Phi Beta Mu, Gamma Chapter. In 2015 she was presented with the John LaPorta Outstanding Jazz Educator Award, and in 2016 the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation named her the David Baker Indiana Jazz Educator of the year. She has co-authored a book entitled “JAZZWOMEN; Conversations with 21 Musicians,” published by Indiana University Press in 2004. She was recently honored with the Phi Beta Mu “2020 Hall of Fame Award” and this coming December she will be presented with the 2021 Medal of Honor at the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago.

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