PRISM & KMEA! “The Musical Spirit of WKU!”

                  In spring 2019, the WKU Department of Music will celebrate 24 years of PRISM and enjoy a well-deserved presence at the state KMEA conference. The University Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Paul Hondorp, and the Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Baker Professor of Music Dr. Brian St. John, will both perform featured concerts at the 2019 Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) conference in February. These ensembles were chosen from across the commonwealth and they demonstrate WKU’s competitiveness in musical excellence with state and regional institutions. Congratulations to the participating students and faculty on this outstanding achievement!

                  The annual PRISM concert is an amazing event for the whole family that showcases the great spirit of the WKU Department of Music. Featuring almost every performance ensemble in the department, PRISMdemonstrates our commitment to musical diversity, collaboration, and creativity, as well as the acclaimed artistry of our faculty and students. Concertgoers may hear the Wind Ensemble, Steel Drum Band, Jazz Ensemble, Redshirts, Guitar Ensemble, and much, much more – all tightly organized throughout Van Meter Hall into a seamless high-energy production that includes special lighting, unique staging, and even a little good humor. Here is just a taste of what you might hear…

                  Wind Ensemble – The WKU Wind Ensemble is the premier wind and percussion ensemble on campus. The ensemble has performed at KMEA six times since 1996 and at the College Band Directors National Association Southern Division Convention, including a featured 2016 performance in Charleston, S.C. The ensemble has travelled abroad to Russia and Costa Rica and shared a performance tour of the Mediterranean with other instrumental ensembles in May 2018. Directed by Dr. Gary Schallert (WKU Director of Bands), the ensemble performs traditional band literature as well as commissions and new contemporary works for the medium.

                  WKU Choirs – The WKU choirs include the Chorale, the community Choral Society, the newly formed University Singers, select Men’s and Women’s Choruses, and a-cappella groups the Treblemakers and Redshirts. Directed by Dr. Paul Hondorp (Director of Choral Activities), the choral program at WKU has a long history of excellence having performed at multiple KMEA conferences and the Southern Division Convention of the American Choral Directors Association. Students have also toured Southern Spain, Costa Rica, and are currently planning a performance at Carnegie Hall in June. Performing for many university, alumni, and community events, the Treblemakers and Redshirts are also very popular across campus and in the region with their highly energetic renditions of popular rock, jazz, and gospel works.

                  Jazz Band – The WKU Jazz Band performs a wide repertoire of jazz music, including swing standards, Latin favorites, and cutting-edge selections from the present. The band is a traditional big band that features a full rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass, drums) and a 15-piece horn section (saxes, trumpets and trombones). Under the direction of guitarist and bluesman John Martin, students learn and demonstrate the art of improvisation through working with a rhythm section, ensemble interaction, and chord/harmonization study.

                  Steel Drum Band – Under the direction of Dr. Mark Berry, the Steel Band is one of the most energetic ensembles on campus! Using 55-gallon oil drums this group performs traditional music from the Caribbean, Latin and Brazilian music, popular arrangements, and contemporary originals. The audience is invited to cheer, laugh, toss beach balls, and imagine life on the beach with the WKU Steel Band.

                  Guitar Ensemble – The WKU Guitar Ensemble is a performance group designed to improve reading and playing ability, widen knowledge of the guitar and related literature, and expose each student to live performance. The ensemble performs music from the renaissance period through the 20th century, is directed by John Martin, and typically includes 10-12 guitarists from across campus.

                  Chamber Ensembles – These ensembles are small groups of students and faculty who typically perform on similar instruments like the Trumpet Ensemble, Trombone Choir, woodwind and brass quintets, string ensembles, Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble, and the Percussion Ensemble. Generally working without a conductor, these ensembles require students to be highly aware and sensitive to each other’s part as they present a more intimate performance setting for both performers and the audience.

                  This year the department celebrates 24 years of PRISM! I invite students, adults, families, and friends of all ages to attend on Friday night, January 25, at 8 p.m. in Van Meter Hall. Tickets are $15 for adult general admission (student discounts apply) and all proceeds go towards music scholarships. Tickets are available at Royal Music (830 Fairview Avenue) or at the door.

                  In addition to PRISM, be sure to visit for a full calendar of Department of Music events throughout the spring 2019 semester. I look forward to sharing the 24th Annual WKU PRISM Concert with the entire southern Kentucky community, and I hope you can join us for many other events in spring 2019 – Go Tops!

                  For more information, call the WKU Department of Music at 270-745-3751 or visit

-by Scott Harris