02/17/12 More than 120 selected musicians and choir members from eight military schools and colleges from across the country will be on the Culver Academies campus Feb. 24-26 as the Academies host the 36th annual Military School Band Festival. The Academies last hosted the MBSF in 2005.

Two days of intense rehearsal by musicians and vocalists who have never performed together will culminate in a Festival Concert at 2 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 26) in Eppley Auditorium. The concert is free to the public and for the first time will feature a 40-voice Festival Choir led by clinician Stacey Warren, the Academies choir director. About one-third of the choir members will be from visiting schools.

Once a year selected students from the Military School Band Association assemble at a member school to perform in concert and compete in a drum major competition. The drum majors learn each other’s signals and commands and will compete in a prescribed drill at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 25). That competition is also open to the public and will be held in the Steinbrenner Recreation Center.

Academies Band Director Maj. William Browne (ING) said the festival is a great opportunity for Culver’s student musicians to meet and work with other students and see how things are done at their schools. The weekend is an example of “the universality of music in contrast with the distinctions and individual traditions represented by each school,” Browne said. “We are all different, but our playbook – the music – is the same. Our goal is to hone our craft and play as one.”

One major difference will be that all the other girls are members of their respective schools Corps of Cadets, while the girls in the Culver band have no military affiliation, Browne said.

Notable military band conductors from throughout the country have been guest clinicians and conductors at the MSBF over the years. This year the military is represented by Navy Lt. j.g. Kelly Cartwright, director of the U.S. Navy Band, Mid-South, who will serve as the Concert Band Clinician, and Master Chief Musician Joe Brown, drum major of the U.S. Navy Band in Washington, D.C., as the Drum Major Clinician. Cartwright is the first female conductor in the history of the festival, and her involvement happens to coincide with in the 40th anniversary of Culver Girls Academy.

A special offering this year will be a presentation tailored for MSBF students by John Yeager, Ph.D., director of the Academies Center for Character Excellence. Yeager, a nationally-known consultant, coach, and author, will present two Friday morning seminars on “Building the Positive Core in the Band: Strengths, Resilience and Relationships.” The sessions will be offered at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. in Roberts Auditorium (in the Roberts Hall of Science) during the audition process.

Auditions and rehearsals will be held throughout the day on Friday and Saturday, leading up to the Festival Concert on Sunday.

Several special awards will be made to participants during the weekend recognizing the best prepared high school and college, most outstanding cadet musician and cadet drum major, and the first-chair players in the Festival Concert Band.

Photo: Drum Majors pose on the Academies campus during the Military School Band Festival hosted by the Academies in 2005. The Academies will be hosting more than 150 musicians and choir members from eight military schools and colleges at the Feb. 24-26 event, which includes a public concert at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon in Eppley Auditorium. Photo provided.