Renowned Conductors to Lead the 2016 NAfME All-National Honor Ensemble Program

Mike Lawson • ChoralNews • April 4, 2016

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Joel Sachs Conducts the New Juilliard Ensemble (photo by HiroyukiIto)RESTON, VA. –The National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) premier national honor ensembles will be led by four award-winning conductors. The nation’s most elite high school musicians will vie for the opportunity to rehearse and perform in a one-of-a-kind national honor program.

The students must first compete at their local, district, and state level to become eligible for this honor. On November 13, during the 2016 NAfME National In-Service Conference, these exceptional young musicians will gather in Grapevine, Texas, to showcase their expert musicianship and perform a gala concert celebrating music education and the arts.

Renowned ConductorsThe All-National Honor Ensembles consist of a concert band, orchestra, mixed chorus, and jazz ensemble; participating students are chosen by auditions. The concert band and symphony orchestra will each have approximately 150 instrumentalists, the jazz ensemble 20 instrumentalists, and the mixed chorus approximately 350 vocalists. Eligible students have qualified for their state-level honor ensemble program and competed against top students for a spot in these national honor ensembles. The audition deadline is May 11.

Ensemble members will perform under the baton of four of the most prominent conductors in the United States. William LaRue Jones will lead the Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Jones is the Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Iowa. A Texas native, Dr. Jones has conducted more than 100 All-State orchestras with additional festivals/clinics in each of the 50 states and Canadian provinces. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Conductor’s Workshop of America, and has been on the conducting faculty for the League of American Orchestras and the International Workshops. He has presented additional conducting workshops throughout America, Norway, Scotland, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Singapore, China, and Australia.

Paula Crider will lead the Concert Band. Dr. Crider is Professor Emerita at the University of Texas. Dr. Crider has taught in the public schools at all levels, and holds the unique distinction of having been the first female in the state of Texas to serve as director of bands at a class 5-A high school. Her Crockett High School Bands in Austin, Texas, enjoyed both state and national recognition for musical excellence on the concert stage, and were twice named Texas 5A State Marching Champions. A tenured Full Professor at The University of Texas, Professor Crider conducted the Symphony Band, and was Director of the acclaimed University of Texas Longhorn Band. During her 17-year tenure, she was twice accorded the “Eyes of Texas” Award for distinguished teaching. She continues to serve as visiting guest professor at universities throughout the country.

The Mixed Choir will be led by Anton Armstrong. Dr. Armstrong is Tosdal Professor of Music at St. Olaf College. Dr. Armstrong became the fourth conductor of the St. Olaf Choir in 1990 after ten years in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he had served on the faculty of Calvin College and led the Calvin College Alumni Choir, the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and the St. Cecilia Youth Chorale. He is a graduate of St. Olaf College and earned advanced degrees at the University of Illinois and Michigan State University. In June 1998, he began his tenure as founding conductor of the Oregon Bach Festival Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy. During 2015-16 season, Dr. Armstrong served as the only non-Japanese juror for the 68th Japan Choral Association National Choral Festival. He also served as guest conductor of two of the finest professional choruses in the United States: The Houston Chamber Choir and The Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati.

The Jazz Band will be led by Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Todd Stoll and a soon-to-be announced special guest conductor. Mr. Stoll has more than 25 years of experience as an advocate, performer, educator, and promoter of great jazz music. His performance experiences are wide-ranging from clubs to international concert venues, big bands to symphony orchestras. He serves as Vice President of Education for JALC overseeing programs that touch millions of people from infants to the elderly. Jazz at Lincoln Center is the sponsor of the 2016 All-National Honor Jazz Band.

Read more about NAfME’s 2016 All-National Honor Ensembles, guest conductor biographies, and how students may audition by visiting:


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