Gehlen, Spalding Catholic musicians to perform at CYO Honor Band Festival

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
(Photo contributed) Gehlen Catholic Junior High and High School instrumental music students chosen for CYO Honor Band, are front row (from left) -- Jovanny Vera, Evan Niebuhr, Nathan Klein, TJ Kruse and Meredith Kellen. Second row -- Andrew Kordick, Michelle Klein, Emily Pratt, Malayna Hanks, Jordan Larson and Rachel Kellen. Back row -- Ashley Schmit, Megan Kellen, Michaela Bretey, Kaitlyn Norfolk and Kathryn Ripley. Not pictured -- Carlyn Bretey.

LE MARS -- Twenty Gehlen and Spalding Catholic Schools students in seventh through 12th grade will be among musicians performing today (Wednesday), during the 18th Annual CYO Honor Band Festival.

The evening concert will be held on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake.

Gehlen Catholic's junior high students participating are Carlyn Bretey and Kathryn Ripley - flute; Malaya Hanks, Jordan Larson and Meredith Kellen - clarinet; Kaitlyn Norfolk - trumpet.

(Photo contributed) Spalding Catholic's Junior High students chosen for CYO Honor Band are, (from left) -- Tyler Zenk, Thomas Pohlen, and Kennedy Heying.

Spalding Catholic's junior high students include Tyler Zenk - trumpet, Thomas Pohlen - trombone, and Kennedy Heying - clarinet.

Gehlen Catholic's high school students include Rachel Klein - flute; Michelle Klein, Emily Pratt, and T.J. Kruse - alto saxophone; Andrew Kordick - tenor saxophone; Michaela Bretey and Nathan Klein - trumpet; Jovanny Vera - trombone; Evan Niebuhr - baritone; Megan Kellen and Ashley Schmit - percussion.

The guest director for the Junior High Honor Band is Barbara Wells.

Wells is currently in her 13th year as music education teacher in the Storm Lake Community School District, where she teaches woodwind lessons, directs the fifth and sixth grade bands, assists with the seventh-eighth and high school bands, and teaches fifth grade general music. She has also taught in the Alta and Battle Creek-Idea Grove School Districts.

Wells received her bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa with a degree in music education and clarinet performance.

Wells has served the Northwest Iowa Bandmasters Association (NWIBA) as president for two terms and was the recipient of the NWIBA Karl King Distinguished Service Award - Active in 2004.

Wells' students are consistently selected for All State and district honor bands, and bands under her direction have received numerous superior ratings at district festivals.

Wells performs as principal clarinet in the Cherokee Symphony, in the Cherokee Community Theatre Pit Orchestra, and in various community bands. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Wells is active in Lakeside Presbyterian Church, where she is the organist and director of the Chancel Choir.

Jason Heeren is the guest director for the High School Honor Band.

Heeren is in his sixth year as the director of bands at Storm Lake High School where he conducts the Tornado Marching, Pep, Jazz, and Concert Bands.

Prior to his teaching at Storm Lake, Heeren spent six years with the Aurelia Community School district. Many of Heeren's students have participated in many district and state honor bands along with being selected to perform in the Iowa All State Music Festival. His ensembles have earned consistent division "I" ratings at state festivals.

In 2007 and 2008, the Aurelia Jazz Band placed first and second at the Iowa Jazz Championships and also won Grand Champion Honors at Festival Disney in Orlando, Fla.

The 2012 Storm Lake Concert Band was selected as the Class 3A Honor Band at the Iowa Bandmasters Association (IBA) Convention.

Heeren is very active in the NWIBA and the State IBA serving on the Concert Band Affairs and Mentorship Committees. He is the past president of the NWIBA and is currently running for president election for IBA.

He is active as a performer in Northwest Iowa, adjudicator, and guest conductor. In 2013, he received the Northwest Iowa Karl King Award for Distinguished Service for Active Directors.

Gehlen and Spalding instrumental music directors, Paul Niebuhr and Cliff McMurray, stated, the CYO Honor Band is designed to highlight the strong and talented musicians within the junior high and high schools throughout the Diocese. In addition, the students are given an opportunity to play in a large ensemble, network with other Catholic students, and to further develop their musical skills.