April 16, 2024 // Diocese

St. Cecilia Honor Band Program Brings Schools Together

An array of sounds came from the Bishop Luers High School gymnasium and surrounding classrooms on Thursday, April 11. Band students from Bishop Dwenger, Bishop Luers, and their feeder schools gathered to participate in the third annual St. Cecilia Honor Band program, a collaborative event where students practice music together under the direction of music professionals. All the high school students formed one band, and
the middle school students formed another.

Throughout the day, students broke out into sectional groups to practice their specific parts, learning tips from skilled instructors. The day culminated with an evening concert to showcase what they had learned.

Photos by Georgia Lieb
The combined Bishop Luers/Bishop Dwenger high school band performs on Thursday, April 11, at Bishop Luers.

Both high schools performed a show for the feeder school students during the program, highlighting the Bishop Luers Pep Band and Bishop Dwenger’s Winter Drumline.

The St. Cecilia Honor Band came about as a collaboration between Bishop Luers Band Director Adam Hanke and Bishop Dwenger Band Director Don Cochran four years ago. The two directors attended a professional development day at Bishop Dwenger and began brainstorming ways for their students to collaborate with one another. Each wanted to create a program post-COVID in order to recruit and improve the number of students participating in their band programs. They decided to create a program where their students could combine strengths to form one band and to learn and improve together.

“When these kids get together and they’re performing in a large band, it’s really exciting, because then they can actually hear all the parts,” Cochran said. “One of the challenges we run into is that not all the parts are being played when we pull out band literature (in just one high school or middle school band program). By pulling our talents together, the kids could see what it feels like and the excitement behind having all of the musical parts played.”

Hanke agreed.

Band directors pause for a photo following the St. Cecilia Honor Band evening performance. From left to right are Don Cochran, Bishop Dwenger Band Director; Scott Humphries, Manchester University Director of Bands; and Adam Hanke, Bishop Luers Band Director.

“We both have smaller programs, and so to be able to play as a large group gives them that experience,” Hanke
said. “It also gives the opportunity to bring in a clinician – a great experience to get the kids working with some really good educators.”

Scott Humphries served as guest clinician for the event, directing both the middle school and high school bands during their evening performances. He is the Director of Bands at Manchester University, as well Principal Conductor for the Fort Wayne Area Band.

Guest sectional instructors included Cochran, St. Charles’ Angela Bassett, St. Vincent’s Nathan Richter, and Queen of Angels’ Olivia Leitch.

When asked what his favorite part about St. Cecilia Honor Band was, Hanke said: “I have three big things that have really influenced my life: faith/family, Bishop Luers, and music. Those three things have really changed my life and got me where I am.” Hanke said he enjoys “being able to share that and get together with a large group of kids to share that faith. Our job is to give the kids the best experience possible.”

Cochran told Today’s Catholic his favorite part about
the program is “getting feedback from the students – especially the elementary and middle school students – of how exciting it is, and hearing from their teachers that they really enjoyed it. They’re wanting to make sure that we can do this on a yearly basis.”

Bishop Luers and Bishop Dwenger take turns hosting this event. Next year’s St. Cecilia Honor Band will be held at Bishop Dwenger.

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