MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin will host its 45th annual Honor Band program Jan. 25-27. Begun in 1980, the Honor Band draws musical talent from middle and high schools across Tennessee as well as from other states, including Kentucky and Mississippi.
Students in grades 7 through 12 are nominated by their band directors to be accepted as an Honor Band member.
Honors Band director and UTM Director of Bands Dr. John Oelrich said about 725 students apply for Honor Band each year and about 360 are accepted. This year, there are 380 students participating from 78 different schools.
Oelrich added that besides the honor of being accepted to Honor Band, the students get the added experience of playing with other outstanding music students from other schools.
“The directors send their best kids to have a really enriching experience with the best kids from other programs,” he said. “They come together and play for the first time in a band that will never, ever be together again like that.”
Honor Band students will come to campus later this week for a series of rehearsals prior to the Saturday concerts.
“They come in on Thursday afternoon and they audition for a chair in one of the bands,” Oelrich said. “Then, Thursday night starting at 7:00, we rehearse. We rehearse a couple of hours that night and then the next day from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.”
UT Martin then puts on a showcase concert for the Honor Band students featuring university students in solo and ensemble performances.
The Saturday of Honor Band week begins with more rehearsals through the morning, then the Honor Band students take part in four concerts.
The UTM Showcase Concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Honor Band concerts begin at 1 p.m. Saturday with the Middle School Honor Band Concert, followed by the Concert Band Concert at 1:45 p.m., the Symphonic Band Concert at 2:30 p.m. and the Wind Ensemble Concert at 3:30 p.m.
The Honor Band solo competition winner will perform at 3 p.m.
All concerts will be held in the Harriet Fulton Theatre in the Fine Arts Building and are open to the public with no admission charge.
The honor of being named to the UT Martin Honor Band is only part of the purpose behind the program. It also allows high school students to experience a university setting and to perform on campus.
“They get a good educational experience by coming here,” Oelrich said. “The cool thing about an event like this is: This is a music event and, yes, it is a recruiter for the Department of Music, but really, what we are doing with an event like this is recruiting for the entire university.
“Kids coming here for the Honor Band will not all want to major in music, but they may want to come to study nursing or they may want to come for agriculture or health and human performance or English. This is a fantastic way for us to bring students to campus, give them a really positive experience and make them feel good for what they are doing. That can help a student if they are faced with a decision for college say, ‘I had a good time in Honor Band there. I liked the campus and I liked the feel.’ It’s a campus-wide recruiter, as are all of our
For more information about UT Martin’s Honor Band, call the Department of Music at 731-881-7402.