The National Band Association at IU and local Indiana high schools commissioned a concert band piece to be composed by Cait Nishimura, a Canadian composer. The IU Concert Band will premiere the piece, “The Nature of Trees,” at 8 p.m. on Feb. 8 at the Musical Arts Center.
Since Paoli High School, Brown County High School, Salem High School and Southridge High School bands have performing rights, they will perform the piece within the next year before Nishimura can sell it and other bands may play it. Madeline McCarthy, president of the NBA at IU, said the core of this project is the high school bands.
McCarthy said Jason Nam, IU Concert Band conductor, Jacobs School of Music professor and faculty advisor for the NBA at IU, suggested the idea of commissioning a piece in a meeting over a year ago.
The NBA executive board at the time chose Nishimura because of her music education background and its knowledge of her good character through her earlier work with Nam and other musicians the members of the NBA at IU had known.
McCarthy said Nam had also mentioned involving local high school bands to contribute money to the commission and have their names on the score, which gave them performing rights.
McCarthy said Nishimura will discuss composition and what it meant for her to compose this piece with the students on Zoom in their classrooms. She said the NBA at IU also sent the classes sample composition lesson plans.
Due to COVID-19 complications, McCarthy said Nishimura will not be able to attend the rehearsal or concert in person, but will virtually observe and talk with the students.
McCarthy said the students will travel to IU and participate in sectional rehearsals facilitated by students from Jacobs acting as section coaches. After their sectional rehearsals, Nishimura will contribute her feedback on Zoom during a full band rehearsal conducted by Eric Smedley, Jacobs professor and band director. The high school bands will also participate in a side-by-side rehearsal with the IU Concert Band, McCarthy said.
McCarthy said being awarded the Metz Grant made it possible for the NBA at IU to follow through with their plans for this project.
“We wanted the piece to be about the resilience of the music and band community and how, even though everything has been really difficult, there’s still some hope that music can connect us even through difficult times,” said Cristina Sarrico, the secretary of the NBA at IU.
The piece is accessible to schools with different instrumentations, Sarrico said. Although there are parts for other instruments, a school only able to access standard instruments will still be able to perform the piece.
Bonnie Trueblood, Salem Community Schools band director, said the project helps keep students involved in band. Only 16 Salem Community Schools band members remain since the students were behind in their schoolwork after classes went virtual.
Trueblood said one of her students told her they needed something to look forward to. Trueblood said the high schoolers are excited to rehearse with the Jacobs students.
“My favorite part about being a band teacher is watching the kids get to the point where they can create music,” Trueblood said.