Concert And Educational Outreach Part Of Presidio Brass’s Three-Day Residency


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An important goal for the Marshall County Arts Cooperative is for every student in Marshall County to have access to a professional artist every year. They fulfill this mission by bringing artists to the county to lead workshops and master classes for students, and to perform for the public.

“It’s a win-win situation,” said Brad Ekiss, president of the arts cooperative. “When we capitalize on an artist’s performance by asking them to share their talents with students, the public gets to see a quality show and the students learn from artistic masters.”

The cooperative has brought artists to the area for over ten years. During that time they realized extending an artist’s stay is beneficial.

“When artists stay in the county for more than one day, the impact they have on our community increases substantially,” Ekiss added.

Presidio Brass is the next group part of the arts cooperative’s season of artists. The five-member brass ensemble from San Diego, Calif. arrives Sunday and leaves Thursday. While here they will lead educational workshops for students from Axtell, Marysville, and Valley Heights.

The area band teachers are excited for this opportunity.

“MCAC has provided an amazing opportunity for our students in this rural area to be exposed to some of the best musicians in the world,” said Jamie Minneman, band director at Marysville. “It’s something I, as a teacher, would not be able to do on my own without traveling to a large city.”

Minneman’s high school band will partner with the Valley Heights High School band; the combined bands will work with the five professional musicians Tuesday.

“We are so very excited about performing with the Marysville band and learning so many things from Presidio Brass, not only about playing our instruments better but also learning tricks of the trade and hearing about all their experiences,” said Kim Oatney, band director at Valley Heights.

Both bands will perform with Presidio Brass Tuesday night, March 28, at their concert, “Sounds of the Cinema.” The free concert starts at 7:00 p.m. in the Marysville High School auditorium.

Themes from “Star Wars,” “The Magnificent Seven,” Disney’s “Fantasia,” Gershwin’s “An American in Paris,” “West Side Story,” “Mission: Impossible” and a mash-up from “The Incredibles” are some of the Hollywood hits to be performed.

On Wednesday Presidio Brass will travel to Axtell to work with the Axtell band and to perform for high school students.

Jennifer Schmelzle, Axtell’s band director, is glad her band students will have the opportunity to learn from the brass ensemble.

“Having music groups come work with our students or perform at the school is a great way to show that music is still alive,” she said.

It was during an educational performance in 2006 that Miles McAllister, then a high school junior in southern California, heard Presidio Brass. McAllister, now a trumpet player for Presidio Brass, credits that performance as a moment of inspiration for his musical career.

“Presidio Brass ended up coming to my high school and performing for us,” McAllister explained. “Most of the Presidio Brass members became the brass coaches for our band program and ran weekly sectional rehearsals. I also took numerous private lessons with both of the original trumpet players. It really has come full circle for me, having been wowed by them as a high school student and instructed by them individually to less than ten years later becoming a member of the group. I think it’s a pretty good illustration of how you never know where music is going to take you.”

In addition to McAllister on the trumpet, the ensemble consists of Steve O’Connor, trumpet; Geoff Durbin, euphonium and trombone; Josh Bledsoe, trombone; and Scott Sutherland, tuba and piano.

“We hope that when we are invited to a school that we can inspire the students in the same way that we were inspired at some point in our lives,” McAllister said.

For more information about their residency or performance people may contact Ekiss at 785-562-7728.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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