Arts & Culture

UK, UofL and Ohio State to Play American Bandmasters Association's Lexington Convention

photo of United State Marine Band
Concert bands from UK, University of Louisville and Ohio State will join the United States Marine Band in the spotlight next week at the Singletary Center for several free public concerts presented for the American Bandmastmasters Association Convention.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 1, 2017) — Concert bands from University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and Ohio State University will join the United States Marine Band in the spotlight next week as they take the Singletary Center for the Arts stage for several free public concerts presented as part of the 83rd annual American Bandmasters Association (ABA) convention March 7-12, in Lexington. Also performing for ABA and Central Kentucky audiences will be the celebrated Dobyns-Bennett High School Wind Symphony from Kingsport, Tennessee.

The American Bandmasters Association, founded in 1929, with John Philip Sousa as honorary life president, recognizes outstanding achievement on the part of concert band conductors and composers. The current membership (invitational) comprises approximately 300 band conductors and composers in the U.S. and Canada, and 80 associate members (music businesses and corporations that provide significant services to bands and to the publication of band music). As part of the ABA convention members of the association, guest artists and ensemble musicians representing 42 states and four Canadian provinces will be in Lexington for organizational meetings and five free public concerts featuring nationally recognized bands.

The first concert will feature Dobyns-Bennett High School Wind Symphony conducted by Lafe Cook. The concert will begin 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, at the Singletary Center.

Lafe Cook has been a high school band director for 21 years and is in his 17th year as the director of the Dobyns-Bennett Band Program. Under his direction, the Dobyns-Bennett Band has experienced tremendous growth, increasing from 180 to over 300 musicians. The Dobyns-Bennett Symphonic Band has performed at numerous conventions including the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) and National Band Association Southern Regional Convention, the Tennessee Music Education Association Conference, Bands of America’s National Concert Band Festival and Midwest International Band and Orchestra Convention. The Dobyns-Bennet Band Program was the recipient of the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s 2004 Sudler Flag of Honor Award.

Cook is a four-time recipient of the National Band Associations’ Citation of Excellence and has been honored by the John Philip Sousa Foundation as a Sudler Flag of Honor Laureate. He was named “Aide de Camp” to the governor of Tennessee in 2005. His professional and honorary affiliations include the National Band Association, Tennessee Music Education Association, East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association, National Education Association, Phi Beta Mu and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Cook was inducted into ABA in 2009.

Later Wednesday evening, the University of Kentucky Wind Symphony conducted by John Cody Birdwell will take the Singletary Center stage for a 9:15 p.m. concert.

The UK Wind Symphony consists of the finest wind and percussion graduate and undergraduate students in the nationally recognized UK School of Music. As the centerpiece of a band program that has served the Commonwealth of Kentucky for over 100 years, UK Wind Symphony continues a rich tradition of performing the finest traditional and contemporary compositions in the concert band/chamber winds repertoire. UK Wind Symphony has been invited to perform at many of the most prestigious events in the college band profession, including recent appearances at CBDNA National Conferences. The Wind Symphony has also been recently invited to perform at several CBDNA Southern Division Conferences and at the annual conference of the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA), held annually in Louisville.

In 2008, the UK Wind Symphony traveled to the People’s Republic of China and performed for thousands in person and via broadcast during a 10-day concert tour of several of China’s most prominent cities and highly recognized concert venues.

The University of Louisville Wind Ensemble conducted by Frederick Speck will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at Singletary Center.

Frederick Speck, director of bands and professor of music, conducts the University of Louisville (UofL) Wind Ensemble and New Music Ensemble, and teaches conducting and composition. Under his leadership, the UofL Wind Ensemble has been invited to perform at KMEA Conferences, CBDNA Southern Division Conferences, the MENC National Conference and the CBDNA National Conference. His music has been performed by such ensembles as the Louisville Orchestra, the Denver Symphony and Speculum Musicae, and recorded by such artists as Richard Stoltzman. Twice the recipient of UofL's President’s Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Research and Creative Activity, Speck's work has also been recognized through fellowships and commissions from such organizations as the Barlow Endowment, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Indiana Arts Commission, and the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts.

Later Thursday evening, Ohio State University Wind Symphony conducted by Russel Mikkelson will perform at 9:15 p.m., at Singletary Center.

The Ohio State University (OSU) Wind Symphony is widely recognized as one of the country’s elite wind bands. Its membership comprises the most accomplished brass, woodwind and percussion musicians in the university's School of Music. Committed to the creation of new music for winds, this ensemble has commissioned music by composers including William Bolcom, Aaron Jay Kernis, David Maslanka, Eric Stokes, Dan Welcher, David Gillingham, John Stevens, Donald Crockett, Daniel Godfrey, Charles Rochester Young, Robert Beaser and many others. One of the goals of the OSU Wind Symphony is to provide students the opportunity to interact with some of the leading composers and musical minds of today. Visitors have included such notable musicians as John Corigliano, Lukas Foss, Krzysztof Penderecki, Gunther Schuller, Joseph Schwantner, Jennifer Higdon, Frank Ticheli, Augusta Read Thomas, John Mackey, John Stevens, Steven Bryant, David Gillingham, Jonathan Newman, Roger Cichy and Percy Grainger’s biographer John Bird.

Since 2000, the OSU Wind Symphony has recorded five compact discs including "Rest," "Southern Harmony," "Winds of Nagual," "Jubilare!" and "Sounds, Shapes and Symbols." The OSU Wind Symphony has performed at the CBDNA Convention, the Ohio Music Educators Association Conference and with BalletMet Columbus, and presented numerous performances both on and off campus.

All concerts are free and open to the public and will be held at the Singletary Center on the UK campus. For more information on the programs for these concerts, visit

Closing out the concert schedule for the ABA Convention will be the “President’s Own” United States Marine Band. This sold out concert will be conducted by Lt. Col. Jason K. Fettig.

For more information on the ABA convention agenda, visit the ABA convention site at

The 2017 ABA Convention is being hosted by the UK School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts. UK's School of Music has garnered a national reputation for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, composition, and theory and music history.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue