Members of the Wind Ensemble sit for a group photo at K-State.

The Kansas State University Wind Ensemble, under the Direction of Dr. Frank Tracz, performed at the 85th Annual Convention of The American Bandmasters Association in Loveland, Colorado, Wednesday, March 6. The performance includes soloists Dr. Anna Wytko, Professor of Saxophone at K-State, and Mr, Chris Castellanos, French horn performing artist with the Boston Brass. The ensemble was invited to perform at this most honored organization by Col. Lowell Graham, retired conductor of the US Air Force Band, and now President of the American Bandmasters Association. There are four University ensembles invited to perform this year: Kansas State, The University of Texas El Paso, Colorado State, and Northern Colorado, along with the United States Air Force Band.

The ABA was founded in 1929 by Edwin Franco Goldman and John Philip Sousa (Honorary Life President) to honor, promote, and recognize outstanding achievement on the part of band conductors and composers. The current membership — by invitation only — consists of approximately 300 conductors and composers from across the globe and 80 associate members (business and corporations that provide significant services to bands and to the publication of band music). Members are nominated by current ABA members and are vetted for their contribution to the band world. Recordings, concert programs, letters of support, and a very thorough and complete vetting procedure occurs, as well as a vote of the entire membership, before any conductor is invited to membership. Dr. Tracz was nominated in 2010 and invited to membership in 2012. He is one of 5 conductors from Kansas ever to be inducted in to the ABA. It has been stated that an invitation to ABA is more difficult to attain then tenure and promotion to Full Professor at most Universities.

This is the Kansas State’s first invitation and appearance at an International conference of this scope and will be performing in front of approximately 400 of the finest conductors, leaders, composers, and publishers. The tradition of ABA is to have the ensemble invite guest conductors to conduct the band on the concert. This list includes present members of ABA as well as new invitees.

The K-State Wind Ensemble will be performing with these prominant guest conductors and soloists listed below:

  • Dr. Alex Wimmer, Asst. Director of bands at Kansas State
  • Mr. James O. Seda, Director of Bands, Dekalb High School, Georgia
  • Dr. Gerald King, Director of Bands, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • Dr. John Climer, Director of Bands,University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Dr. Anna Wytko, Soloist, Professor of Saxophone, K-State
  • Col. L. Bryan Shelburne, Retired Conductor of “Pershing’s Own”, U.S. Army Band
  • Dr. Mark Walker, Director of Bands, University of Troy
  • Chris Castellanos, French Horn soloist, Boston Brass
  • Dr. Thomas verrier, Director of Wind Ensemble, Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University

The Kansas State University band program has 7 concert ensembles and 7 athletic bands. The Marching band was awarded the prestigious “Sudler Trophy” in 2015 for the “outstanding marching band” in the U.S. And now the Wind Ensemble has been invited to this prestigious “American Bandmasters Association” conference to perform.