Drum Major Joanna Pickar awarded J.P. Sousa AwardPublished 8:45am Wednesday, April 28, 2010
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
Chieftain Marching Band Drum Major Joanna Pickar Tuesday night at Dowagiac Middle School Performing Art Center earned Union High School’s most prestigious music honor, the national John Philip Sousa Award, named for the U.S. Marine Band conductor and march composer.
Like Drum Major Chelsea McIntyre, the 2009 Sousa winner, Pickar also led DUHS to I’s at marching and concert festivals, making Director C.J. Brooks four-for-four in his first two years.
Brooks announced that the graduating field leaders, Pickar and Megan Corey, will be succeeded by junior Kyleigh Hatter and freshman Jeremy Collins, with Courtney Klann advancing to lead drum major for her senior year.
Pickar, whose primary instrument is tuba, last year won the band’s No. 2 award, the Patrick S. Gilmore, garnered this year by percussionist Cody Cox.
Continuing a tradition Josh Bartz began in 2005, Brooks announced that the 2010-2011 band will be performing a rock halftime show – Styx, not Stones.
Brooks and DMS Director Alex Hubbell played audio clips of “Mr. Roboto” and, to showcase the percussion section, “Too Much Time on My Hands,” a contribution to the group by former Niles resident Tommy Shaw.
Joanna plans to attend Southwestern Michigan College and play in the band to keep arts in her life, but she wants to study wildlife biology.
At DUHS she played in the pit orchestra for musicals and solo and ensemble throughout.
“I was part of pep band a little bit, but I never did jazz band,” she said.
She tried out for drum major “to show people I had leadership qualities.”
Brooks bestowed the Chieftain Spirit Award on sophomore percussionist Grant Hatch, who shared last year’s Snake Award with Tony Brooks.
The student award has endured since the early 1970s and was handed down to freshman Corinne Kasper.
Senior saxophonist Christopher Murray received the Director’s Award.
Brooks’ musicians presented him with the traditional framed collage of the 15 Class of 2010 seniors – Leana Allen, Britnee Allerton, Robert Andrade, Zach Blank, Megan Corey, Cody Cox, Spencer Dodd, Kelsey Foote, Joseph Larson, Christopher Murray, Sinjin Ownby, Ethan Pasternak, Joanna Pickar, Keyra Salas, Joseph Van Tuyle, Amanda Wernlund and Joseph Zuhl.
He received a gift certificate to Beeson Street Grill, while Hubbell was presented with an iTunes gift card.
“I really believe I have the most wonderful job in the world,” Brooks said. “I enjoy coming to work every day to work with these kids to make a difference in their lives and to help make them love music as much as I do.”
Speaking on behalf of the band, Pickar said, “We’ve had Mr. Brooks for two years now and he’s pushed us as a band. Our ratings have been fantastic under his leadership. We’ve grown as upperclassmen because of him and become leaders.”
Highlighting the 2009-2010 school year, Brooks said 15 students represented Dowagiac at district solo and ensemble. Those who rated first divisions qualified for state competition in Holland – Courtney Klann, Toni Franco, Chris Murray, Mike McClenahan, Ryan Bassett and Joseph Van Tuyle.
Three students were selected to represent DUHS in the Western Michigan University All-Star Band.
Fifteen were nominated for the Student Ambassadors program to travel in Europe.
“We just recently hosted the SWMBOA (Southwestern Michigan Band and Orchestra Association) Jazz Band Festival. We hosted 11 or 12 bands from all over Cass, Berrien and Van Buren counties. We had a judge who came in from New York City. The night was definitely topped off by the performance of the Dowagiac jazz band,” Brooks said.
Hubbell named as his outstanding students eighth graders Holly Luth and Mackenzie Ruff, seventh grader Cassidy Evans and sixth graders Heather Hammond and Jessica Burns.
“Sixth graders started band this year,” Hubbell noted. “The work they’ve done this year is absolutely tremendous. If you saw them at the football game in the fall and the concert, the improvement was incredible. You’re going to be blown away when you see them at our next concert Fine Arts Night” Thursday, May 13, at Union High.