Group ABC directors program to return to Ashland in 2022 – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News


Clarinetist Julian Bliss will headlining when ABC Group performs next summer in Ashland, after a two-year pandemic detour. ABC photo

Irish violinist and Riverdance star Haley Richardson will be a special guest artist in a return engagement with ABC in 2023. She was 13 when she first performed here in 2016. Courtesy photo

Jazz trombonist and former Dukes of Dixieland performer Harry Watters will be a guest artist at next summer’s ABC group concert. ABC Photo

American Band College will return to Ashland in 2022 for its annual 18-day summer clinic for group directors after a pandemic detour forced them online in 2020 and Puget Sound in 2021.

Summer clinics, each with two public concerts, are part of ABC’s master’s program.

Up to 200 people over the past few years, summer workshop attendees will perform at two venues in 2022 – a June 26 performance at the Craterian Theater and the traditional July 4 concert at Ashland High School Stadium with bonfires fireworks as a result. The group is also planning to participate in the July 4th Ashland Parade.

The program, founded by Max McKee of Ashland, recruits students from around the world for its three-year masters program. McKee is the executive director of the organization and his son Scott is the CEO.

Max McKee and his wife, Nell, recently returned from a five-week tour of Europe, including visits to Greece, London and Ireland.

During their stay in Greece, they registered with two ABC graduates (2003 and 2006) in Thessaloniki – Yiannis Kouokas and Nikos Chrysouhoou.

“They’re amazing,” McKee said. “Between them, they have more than 150 musicians in their two harmony orchestras. I have seen up close all the great things these two men have done for group music in Greece.

McKee said they are the go-to directors in Greece when it comes to group music and group festivals. They will be returning to Ashland next summer to conduct the July 4th concert.

The guest artists at the concert will be Julian Bliss on clarinet and Harry Watters on trombone. The two appeared with the ABC group during their Craterian concert in 2019.

Bliss, concert soloist and jazz artist, has recently performed with the Sao Paolo Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Paris Chamber Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Philharmonic. In 2012, he founded the Julian Bliss Septet, creating programs inspired by the great jazzman Benny Goodman.

Watters toured with the Dukes of Dixieland for four years and was in demand as a Bourbon Street musician during his graduate studies at the University of New Orleans, as a graduate assistant to Professor Ellis Marsalis. Today he performs internationally and has recorded a lot.

Guest composers will be Randall Standridge and Julie Giroux.

Standridge is a Marching Band Editor for Grand Mesa Music Publishers. He is sought after as a clinician, exercise designer and musical arranger. A resident of Jonesboro, Arkansas, he is also a freelance artist, photographer and writer.

Giroux, whose first published work for harmony orchestra was composed at the age of 13, now has over 100 credits for film, television and video games. She has collaborated with Martin Scorsese, Madonna, Celene Dion, Clint Eastwood, Michael Jackson, Harry Connick Jr. and many more. Nominated for Emmy Awards, Oscars and Golden Globes, she won three Emmy Awards.

On their recent trip to London, the McKees attended two performances of Riverdance celebrating 25 years. Riverdance fiddler Haley Richardson performed on an Irish-themed show with ABC in 2016 when she was 13.

“She’s one of the best fiddlers of all time,” McKee said. “Riverdance songwriter Bill Whelan created a five-minute segment in the production, featuring Haley solo on stage.”

The McKees took her out to dinner after one of the performances to finalize the details of her 2023 comeback appearance on ABC.

ABC recently completed the purchase of a building in Ashland at the corner of Siskiyou Boulevard and Liberty, originally the Hillside Church.

The 6,000-square-foot structure will be remodeled to create high-density storage space for ABC’s music collection (now housed at Lincoln School), as well as a study area, rehearsal space and location. for musical preparation. The lower floor will be used to store equipment.

“We had architectural designs created for a new building to be placed on the Ashland School District property,” McKee said. “But the price of $ 1.3 million has increased to $ 3.2 million.” Rather than jeopardizing ABC’s endowment, they shifted gears.

“There is a small house on the property that we are going to rent out to help pay the bills,” he said.

A second house, donated by patron and supporter Gladys Wright, will be sold by ABC, cutting the cost of purchasing the church in half.

“Gladys and her husband, Al, have been mainstays of group music for 80 years,” McKee said. Al Wright died last year at the age of 104 and Gladys Wright is 96.

ABC is making arrangements with the Ashland School District to use the high school facilities as a rehearsal space, as in previous years.

Enrollers in the program learn from some of the country’s top technicians and clinicians during the three summer programs. About half of the three-year diploma work is done at home, between summers.

Applicants must complete six projects, two each year. They include work based on a five-hour entrance exam, audio and video recordings, and an in-depth final project covering their 20 favorite clinic sessions (out of over 150) and 30 favorite group tracks (out of over 150). nearly 400).

A one-day final exam for third-year registrants on July 5 completes the program each summer. It’s complete, to say the least. It includes a written exam; give introductory lessons to the clarinet, horn and snare drum to students who have never played instruments; and a diagnostic rehearsal as a band performs what McKee calls the BooBoo Concert.

“Each candidate leads one of four groups of 35 musicians of non-graduate masters candidates who have 25 specific mistakes to make,” he said. “The candidate has 12 minutes to find as many of these errors as possible.”

McKee has been passionate about orchestral music for decades. He was a group director at SOU before founding the ABC Masters program in 1989.

ABC was first affiliated with SOU, then Sam Houston State University, and now Central Washington University in Ellensburg.

“It’s amazing to me to see the continued interest from so many of our 1,200 graduates,” McKee said. “To this day, we are still in contact with all but 75 of the group of 1,200.”

Contact Ashland writer Jim Flint at [email protected]

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