Arts & Culture

Spectacular Offers Taste of UK Band Program

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 4, 2009) - The University of Kentucky Band Spectacular will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, at the Singletary Center for the Arts Concert Hall. The ensembles showcased in the event will be The Ragtime Ensemble, UK Jazz Ensemble, UK Wind Ensemble, and the Wildcat Marching Band. 

The UK Ragtime Ensemble was created in 2008 by a group of UK percussion students looking to bring ragtime music back to the Bluegrass. Although the music was widely popular in the 1920s, much of it has been largely ignored or forgotten by the general public. The Ragtime Ensemble is dedicated to the resurrection of this music as means of better understanding our musical heritage. The group has been featured in numerous UK concerts including the annual UK Band Spectacular and several percussion concerts. 

Both of the medleys UK Ragtime Ensemble will present are part of a collection of four medleys Bob Becker arranged using several popular 1920s tunes. All utilize the style of legendary ragtime xylophonist Sammy Herman, who was a longtime teacher of Becker’s. "Whispering Medley" is made up of the two songs, "Whispering," written by John Schonberger, and "When You’re Smiling," written by Mark Fisher, Joe Goodwin and Larry Shay. The other piece, "Bye Bye Medley," is comprised of "Bye Bye Blackbird," by Ray Henderson, and "Bye Bye Blues," by Fred Hamm, Dave Bennett,  Bert Lown and Chauncey Gray. Each composition showcases the capabilities of the xylophone through a number of various ragtime styles.

The UK Jazz Ensemble is led by Miles Osland, professor of saxophone and the director of jazz studies. They are a very active group touring the Midwest and the South with notable performances in Chicago, Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Louisville, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Georgia, and invitational performances at the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference and the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic. The ensemble is also very active in the recording studio. Five recordings from jazz studies have been recommended for Grammy nominations and received four-star reviews from DownBeat magazine. To quote one review: “the UKJE characterizes the best of today’s college band output.”

The UK Wind Ensemble represents some of the finest wind instrumentalists at UK. The ensemble, under the direction of John Cody Birdwell, has performed at the College Band Directors National Association National Conference (CBDNA) in Athens, Ga.; CBDNA Southern Division Conferences in Biloxi, Miss., and Greensboro, N.C.; and the Kentucky Music Educators Association Conference held annually in Louisville. In March 2003, the UK Wind Ensemble was a featured ensemble at the CBDNA National Conference in Minneapolis, Minn. Most recently, the ensemble performed at the 2006 CBDNA Southern Division Conference in Nashville, Tenn. In the summer of 2008, the UK Wind Ensemble toured China and performed in Shanghai, Beijing and other venues in celebration of China's hosting of the Olympic games.

The Wildcat Marching Band is under the direction of Carl Collins, director of Athletic Bands. Entertaining thousands of fans with their spirited, high-energy performances, the Wildcat Marching Band (WMB) enjoys a national reputation as one of the finest collegiate marching bands in the country. Its repertoire runs the gamut from cool jazz to contemporary pop hits, classic favorites and music from Broadway. Recently, members of the WMB have enjoyed international exposure as one of the featured ensembles at the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Ryder Cup.

For more information about these ensembles or music at UK, please visit the UK Bands Web site at or the UK School of Music Web site at, or contact the band office at (859) 257-2263.

Tickets for the UK Band Spectacular are $8 for adults and $5 for students, seniors and children. For more information on tickets or this event, please call (859) 257- 4942 or visit online at