By Chelsie Derman
Arts & Entertainment Editor
The College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) hosted their 2022 Eastern Division Conference on Feb.18-19 in Baltimore, Maryland, featuring our own College’s music department.
“What they do as part of the conference is (feature) performances from collegiate groups,” said Eric Laprade, the College’s Director of Bands and an assistant professor of music. “They have a call for performers where colleges can apply.”
In addition to the College, Cornell University, Peabody Institute at John Hopkins (the conference’s venue), Nazareth College, University of Maryland, Intercollegiate band and Rutgers University also performed at the conference.
At the conference, while 48 students played live at the Peabody Institute venue, the voice of 80 choir students could be heard through the recording.
“In total about 120 students were connected to and involved with this,” Laprade said.
Laprade said a part of that application is submitting recordings of music pieces, as well as a proposed program. The recordings then get reviewed by conductors or a panel, which determines who gets selected to be featured at the conference.
One of the recorded pieces that ended up being featured in the conference was none other than “Weather,” based on a NY times poem written by poet Claudia Rankine, which was re-recorded by the music department on Feb. 15, 12:45 pm. at Mayo Concert Hall.
“We were going to perform a piece called Weather at TCNJ Commission, but due to Covid restrictions, we weren’t able to bring the whole choir to perform in the hall,” Laprade said. “So what we did is on the Tuesday before, we re-recorded the performance and then we played a couple pieces in the hall (at the conference).”
Laprade said the students played three pieces at the conference. Other than “Weather,” students performed “Splinter” by Holly Harrison and “For This Brave New Day” by Steve Danyew.
Laprade explained that, for the piece “Splinter,” the College was on the commissioning group for it, making the performance the east coast premiere.
Overall, Laprade thought the event went well.
“We haven’t had a conference since Covid started, so it was the first conference back, and Covid had a pretty serious uptick in December and January, so hosting a conference, a performing arts conference, is challenging any time,” Laprade said. “The hosts were great, Peabody was great, our students were fantastic.”
Nicholas Napier, a senior music education major, said performing at the CBDNA Convention was a great and unique experience, allowing the Wind Ensemble to showcase their hard work.
“The one thing I liked most about our trip was our ability to adjust and acclimate to a new performance space,” Napier said. “It was a hall we've never performed in before, and through adjustments in our playing and some communication amongst our peers, we made informed musical decisions to contribute to what was a successful and captivating performance.”
Napier said he and his classmates left the convention feeling satisfied with their performance.
“It was such a great opportunity for us to take our prepared repertoire to another audience before performing it at home in Kendall Hall at TCNJ,” Napier said.
According to Laprade, the CBDNA Conference occurs every two years, always rotating locations.
“They're usually in February, so they have them every two years, so February 2020, and this was the next one,” Laprade said. “The next one will be in 2024.”
The 2020 conference took place in Temple University in Philadelphia. Despite the rotating locations, the eastern division conference runs from Maryland and up to around Maine, New York and Massachusetts.
Laprade is extremely proud of his students.
“Our students worked really hard to prepare and they performed really well,” Laprade said, “and our staff, our faculty, also worked really hard to make certain that we could do this — taking a trip right now is challenging.”
Laprade said there were a lot of people behind the scenes to help put together the virtual performance that made the recording run smoothly. Tanisha Wells, the music department’s program assistant, helped with planning the recording, and the Dean’s office helped with funding.
“Although the students go, there’s a lot of people investing in making it happen,” Laprade said. “I’m really grateful and thankful for all of that.”