Prairie Wind Ensemble is opening season

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

The Prairie Wind Ensemble in residence at Illinois Central College will open their season on Oct. 9. The concert begins at 2:30 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at Illinois Central College. Dr. Joseph Manfredo, Associate Professor of Music for the School of Music at the Illinois State University  will serve as conductor for this concert. The concert will also feature, bassoonist, Elizabeth Smiley.

Music for the afternoon will include: Symphonic  Dance No. 3, “Fiesta” by Clifton Williams which depicts the pageantry of a Latin America celebrations including street bands, bullfights and bright costumes.   “Fantasy Variations” by Paganini arranged by James Barnes is a suite of variations on a familiar theme of Paganini showcases numerous wind instruments. The tempos and moods range from delicate to imposing as the theme is tossed among instruments or pairs of instruments, from woodwinds to brass (including Barnes' instrument, the tuba) and a striking variation for percussion.  Eric Whitacre’s “October” evokes a serene and peaceful musical representation.   It depicts the crisp autumn air and the subtle changes in light. 

It has the simple, pastoral melodies and the subsequent harmonies inspired by the great English Romantics. James Hosay’s  “A Colonial Collage” represents the three most prevalent musical styles of the Revolutionary era- fife and drum music, the country dance and the sacred hymn  woven together as a melodic reflection of life and culture in Colonial America. “That’s Entertainment” by Eliot Gilman, “March and Procession of Bacchus” by Leo Delibes,  and of course,  John Philip Sousa’s, “The Corcoran Cadets” and “Country Gardens” complete the program.

Joseph Manfredo is an Associate Professor of Music for the School of Music at the Illinois State University.  At ISU, Manfredo is the Coordinator of Music Education and teaches undergraduate courses in instrumental music education.  In addition, he is coordinator of the student teaching program.

Originally from Calumet City, Illinois, Manfredo received a Bachelors Degree in Music Education from Eastern Illinois University, where he studied clarinet with Dr. Earl Boyd and piano with Dr. Catherine Smith.  His graduate studies included a Master of Arts Degree in Instrumental Conducting from EIU and a Doctorate of Music Education from the University of Illinois.  During his doctoral residency, Manfredo was awarded the band conducting internship under the legendary Dr. Harry Begian.  In addition, his doctoral dissertation was awarded the Fritz Thelan Prize by the International Society for the Promotion and Investigation of Wind Music (IGEB) in 1994.  The Thelan Prize was for “the outstanding American doctoral dissertation on the wind band, 1990 – 1994”.

Professor Manfredo is in constant demand as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator.  He has conducted various All-State Bands and Honor Bands throughout the mid-west and southeast United States.  In addition, he has presented lectures and clinics at the Mid-West International Band and Orchestra Clinic, Music Educators National Conference national conference, College Band Directors National Association national conference, National Band Association national conference, and the Conn-Selmer Institute.  He has made presentations at state music conferences in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas, and internationally in Shanghai China, Mainz Germany, Echternach, Luxembourg, Graz Austria and in various cities throughout Brazil.  Presently, he is Vice-President of the Music Teacher Education Division of the Illinois Music Educators Association.  In addition, he serves as the Illinois representative for the North Central Division of the Society for Music Teacher Education.

Elizabeth Smiley is a second year member of Prairie Winds and a second year teacher in Peoria Public Schools. She teaches general music for K-6th grade and beginning band and orchestra at Thomas Jefferson School. In 2010, she graduated from the University of Missouri where she studied bassoon with Mr. Rodney Ackmann. She was also a member of the MU Bassoon Ensemble, University Philharmonic, Symphonic Band and Marching Mizzou, in which she was sousaphone section leader for two years. She is a member of NAfME and IMEA, and is a life member of the professional band service sorority, Tau Beta Sigma.

The PWE has a rich history owed to its founder, Conductor Emeritus Dr. Donald Lewellen, who created the ensemble in 1977. Dr. Lewellen led the ensemble until his retirement in 2003.  Mr. Robert Sheldon served as conductor of the Prairie Wind Ensemble until his departure in 2010 due to job responsibilities as conductor, composer, clinician and Concert Band Editor for the Alfred Publishing Company.  A new conductor will be announced following the December  2011 concert.

The ensemble membership represents many professional backgrounds. Approximately 70% of members are current or retired professional music educators. The remaining 30% represent a diverse set of occupations including recording technician, nurse, educator, anesthesiologist, information technologist, electronics technician, engineer, attorney, homemaker, electrician, retail manager, and project manager.  Members are from Knoxville, Canton, Macomb, Bloomington, Normal, Peoria Heights, Washington, North Pekin, Marquette Heights, Avon, Morton, Cuba, Galesburg, Chillicothe, Dunlap, Glasford, Mapleton, Bartonville, Metamora, Germantown Hills, Marseilles, Farmington, Elmwood as well as Peoria, East Peoria and Morton.

Tickets are $8.00 per concert, $6.00 for students and seniors.  Children under 12 are free. Tickets may be purchased through the Illinois Central College Performing Arts Center by phone (309- 694-5136) or in person. There is limited availability at the door the day of the performance.