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Opening the Door Wider: Panel on Women Composers of Wind Music

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  • This panel is intended to bring forward established composers of classical music and hear their perspectives on writing for wind bands, what they have learned in their paths as a composer and encourage dialogue with music educators of every level of teaching.
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  • Catharine Sinon Bushman is the Wind Ensemble Conductor and Assistant Professor of Music Education at St. Cloud State University. Previously, Dr. Bushman served on the faculty of Winthrop University. In 2016 Dr. Bushman became the conductor of the St. Cloud Municipal Band, an all-adult band of musicians that performs year-round in central Minnesota. Dr. Bushman began her teaching career as Director of Bands at Crystal Lake Central High School in Crystal Lake, Illinois. She was the Associate Director of Bands at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Georgia from 1998-2007. At Lassiter, Dr. Bushman was director of MB II, the second marching band, and later continued as associate director and woodwind caption head with Marching Band I, the primary ensemble. The Lassiter Marching "Trojan" Band is a 280-member organization that has performed at the Tournament of Roses Parade, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and has won numerous regional and national championships. In 2002 Mrs. Bushman conducted the Symphonic II Band's third performance as an invited ensemble at the Bands of America National Concert Band Festival in Indianapolis. Dr. Bushman received the DMA in Wind Conducting at The University of Texas at Austin in 2012. She holds degrees in Music Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University. She is a National Board Certified Teacher in Music. She maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor, adjudicator, and clinician for marching and concert bands. In 2009, she presented a clinic at the Texas Music Educators Conference, sharing her research on a successful band program in a disadvantaged southwest Texas community. She has also presented on woodwind pedagogy and mentoring of women band conductors at Minnesota Music Educators Association and the Midwest Clinic. Her professional memberships include College Band Directors National Association, Society for Music Teacher Education and Minnesota Music Educators Association.
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  • Tonya Mitchell
  • Tonya Mitchell is the Assistant Director of Bands and Assistant Director of Athletic Bands at the University of South Carolina where she assists with the Carolina Band, directs the women’s basketball band, and conducts the University Bands. Mitchell also teaches classes in the music education department. Prior to her appointment at USC, Mitchell served as interim Director of Athletic Bands at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA, where she directed the Blazin’ Brigade marching band, men’s and women’s basketball band, and conducted the concert band. Mitchell is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in Wind Conducting from the University of Kansas. She holds a Master of Music Education degree from the University of Georgia, and a Bachelor of Music Education degree with a minor in wind conducting from Indiana University where she had the honor of performing as a drum major with the Marching Hundred for two years. As a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Kansas, Mitchell conducted the wind ensemble, symphonic band, university band, percussion group, and the Helianthus new music ensemble. She assisted with the Marching Jayhawks, directed the women’s basketball band, and taught undergraduate conducting. Mitchell was the organizer of, and guest conductor in, the Prairie Winds Honor Band Festival hosted at KU. Prior to her time at the University of Kansas, Mitchell served as Director of Bands at Chamblee High School, where she directed all aspects of the band department. Mitchell is a frequent adjudicator, clinician, and author. She has traveled as a guest clarinetist and conductor with the Dekalb Youth Symphony on their Baltics tour through Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. Mitchell has also presented research on Joan Tower’s Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman in Oberwölz, Austria, and is published in the Alta Musica journal.
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  • Jennifer Higdon
  • Jennifer Higdon is a major figure in contemporary Classical music, receiving the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto and a 2010 Grammy for her Percussion Concerto. Higdon enjoys several hundred performances a year of her works, and blue cathedral is one of America's most performed contemporary orchestral works, with more than 600 performances worldwide since its premiere in 2000. Her works have been recorded on over four dozen CDs. One of Higdon’s most current projects is an opera based on the best-selling novel, Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier. It was co-commissioned by Santa Fe Opera, Opera Philadelphia and Minnesota Opera in collaboration with North Carolina Opera. Higdon recently won the International Opera Award for Best World Premiere. Higdon holds the Rock Chair in Composition at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Her music is published exclusively by Lawdon Press.
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  • Libby Larsen
  • Libby Larsen is one of America’s most performed living composers. She has created a catalogue of over 400 works spanning virtually every genre from intimate vocal and chamber music to massive orchestral works and over twelve operas. Grammy Award winning and widely recorded, including over fifty CD’s of her work, she is constantly sought after for commissions and premieres by major artists, ensembles, and orchestras around the world, and has established a permanent place for her works in the concert repertory. As a vigorous, articulate advocate for the music and musicians of our time, in 1973 Larsen cofounded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composer’s Forum, which has become an invaluable aid for composers in a transitional time for American arts. A former holder of the Papamarkou Chair at John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, Larsen has also held residencies with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony and the Colorado Symphony.
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  • Augusta Read Thomas
  • The music of Augusta Read Thomas is nuanced, majestic, elegant, capricious, lyrical, and colorful. A Grammy winner, her impressive body of works embodies unbridled passion and fierce poetry. The New Yorker magazine called her "a true virtuoso composer." Championed by such luminaries as Barenboim, Rostropovich, Boulez, Eschenbach, Salonen, Maazel, Ozawa, and Knussen, she rose early to the top of her profession. An influential teacher at Eastman, Northwestern, Tanglewood, and Aspen Music Festival, she is only the 16th person to be designated University Professor at the University of Chicago (one of only seven currently holding the title). Augusta said, "Teaching is a natural extension of my creative process and of my enthusiasm for the music of others." Ms. Thomas studied composition with Oliver Knussen at Tanglewood; Jacob Druckman at Yale University; Alan Stout and Bill Karlins at Northwestern University; and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, and a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College. Thomas has also been on the Board of Directors of the American Music Center since 2000, as well as on the boards and advisory boards of several chamber music groups. She was elected Chair of the Board of the American Music Center, a volunteer position that ran from 2005 to 2008. She is University Professor (one of six University Professors) at The University of Chicago. Augusta was MUSICALIVE Composer-in-Residence with the New Haven Symphony, a national residency program of The League of American Orchestras and Meet the Composer. Augusta has been on the Board of the ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) for many years; is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Alice M. Ditson Fund; is on the Board of Trustees of The American Society for the Royal Academy of Music; is a Member of the Conseil Musical de la Foundation Prince Pierre de Monaco; and is on the Eastman School of Music's National Council.
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  • Catherine Rand
  • Dr. Catherine Rand is the Director of Bands at The University of Southern Mississippi where she conducts the Wind Ensemble, teaches graduate wind conducting, and guides all facets of The University of Southern Mississippi’s comprehensive band program. Prior to her appointment at The University of Southern Mississippi, she served as the director of bands at Florida International University and the University of South Carolina-Aiken. Dr. Rand received her Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Tampa, Master of Music in conducting from the University of South Florida, and Doctor of Musical Arts in wind conducting from the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. Prior to her collegiate teaching career, she taught band and orchestra in the Florida public school system for 15 years. Dr. Ensembles under her direction have performed at numerous local, regional, and national events. And, most recently, The University of Southern Mississippi’s Wind Ensemble performed at the CBDNA Southern Division Conference in Tampa, Florida, in February 2018. Dr. Rand is a strong advocate for new music, helping to commission new works for wind ensemble and chamber winds, and premiering numerous works by contemporary composers, including Joseph Schwanter, David Maslanka, Luigi Zaninelli, Paul Dooley, Anthony Barfield, Michael Ippolito and Steve Danyew. Dr. Rand maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and guest lecturer throughout the United States and abroad. In 2017, she had the honor to be chosen as a Conn-Selmer Educational Clinician. She is the state representative for College Band Director’s National Association and president for the Women Band Director’s International. Her other professional affiliations include National Band Association, College Music Society, Mississippi Bandmaster’s Association, Florida Bandmaster’s Association, Kappa Kappa Psi and the Music Educators National Conference.