April 26, 2017 | By Jake Weber
Earlier this spring, music students Grace Talaski, ’17, and Will Anderson, ’19, became the first two Albion students ever accepted to the College Band Directors National Association Intercollegiate Honors Band. The pair spent three days in Kansas City, Missouri, attending the national conference and performing with 60 other musicians chosen from small-college programs nationwide.
"When [Albion College Director of Bands] Sam McIlhagga said I should apply, I was quite flattered," said Anderson, a trumpet player with the British Eighth marching band and the Symphonic Wind Ensemble. "When I was told that I got in, I was completely shocked. I never thought that I'd be accepted, nor accepted into something this amazing."
Anderson and Talaski, a clarinetist, had just a few weeks to look over their parts, and the first full band rehearsal didn’t take place until the day before the performance.
“This type of experience is often nerve-racking,” said McIlhagga, adding that, nonetheless, “I’m always astonished at how much music can be learned, and learned well, in such a short amount of time. The concert highlight was a world premiere of Donald Grantham's reimagining of the traditional folk song ‘Shenandoah.’ It truly brought tears to my eyes.”
For chemistry and music major Talaski, the experience was also an inspiration. “I certainly plan to continue pursuing a career in music but do not know specifically how that will end up,” said Talaski, a member of the College’s wind ensemble, orchestra and jazz ensemble. “Playing in this ensemble motivated me to continue working hard and practicing as a musician to improve so that I can continue to play in high-quality ensembles such as this one.”