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H-F symphonic band performs at international music conference

For the first time, the Homewood-Flossmoor High School Symphonic Band performed and was part of clinic presentations at the Midwest Clinic International Band, Orchestra and Music Conference.  

This program drew more than 18,000 attendees from every state and more than 40 countries. The conference on Dec. 20, 21 and 22 was at McCormick Place in Chicago. The clinic was first organized in 1946.

The Homewood-Flossmoor High School Symphonic Band, under the direction of teacher Sarah Whitlock, at right, performed and
was part of the music clinic program for the Midwest Clinic International Band, Orchestra and Music Conference in December.
(Provided photo)

Sarah Whitlock, teacher and band director at H-F, said being selected was an honor both for the band and for her as a member of the music educators’ community. The teacher submitted recordings, photos and a statement of why H-F should be included in the program for the “pretty rigorous” selection process. H-F was notified in April that the band was chosen for the December program.

According to the Midwest Clinic International Band, Orchestra and Music Conference statement, the program offers guests interested in music education an array of clinics and exhibits, as well as access to music and teaching icons. The conference focused on industry trends and future topics in business and music education.

The primary role for the 57 members of the H-F symphonic band was presenting portions of 25 pieces of music from 12 different composers that could be used by beginning band directors at the junior high level. 

“The concept of the clinic is to review (music) literature that would be benchmark pieces,” Whitlock said. Hearing these pieces and finding them available gives band directors a chance to introduce new music that works for that age group and their music proficiency.

Among the pieces H-F performed were two works by Heather Hoefle, former music teacher at Parker Junior High, and a composition by teacher Mark Connor from the St. Louis area. Both are now composing pieces for junior high and high school bands. H-F performed their works at the Illinois Music Educators Conference in Peoria in January 2023.

Whitlock said she also reached out to another composer, William Owens, who was attending the conference. He was familiar with H-F because he’d done his student teaching at H-F in 1984. Owens attended all of the H-F programs.

H-F students attended the conference for two days. On Dec. 20 they got to sit in on clinics, try out instruments on display and meet with other musicians. They also rehearsed for their presentation on Dec. 21.

Whitlock is applying for future programs and conferences that H-F musicians can participate in. The band performs at all the H-F basketball home games and it will be performing at DisneyWorld in Orlando, Florida, over spring break.

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