SMC Clinic Day welcomes local high school bands

Published 5:18 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College’s “Clinic Day” returned Feb. 11, with five area high school bands critiqued by Dr. Wes King just in time for playing their Southwestern Michigan Band and Orchestra Association festival programs the week of March 7. 

King, of the University of Findlay, Ohio, coached high school bands from New Buffalo, Berrien Springs, Eau Claire, Lake Michigan Catholic and Niles, followed by SMC’s Symphonic Band and Jazz Ensemble in the theatre of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus. 

“This is the most people I’ve stood in front of in two years,” said Professor Marc Dombrosky, Visual and Performing Arts Department chairman at SMC. Dombrosky teaches art and design classes and was accompanied by Sam Walker, assistant professor of graphic design. 

The event, introduced on Valentine’s Day in 2020 and canceled by COVID-19 in 2021, is co-sponsored with Quinlan and Fabish Music Co. 

Clinic Day is geared toward high school bands preparing for the SWMBOA District VI festival. Each band receives a similar experience of an hour on stage, playing festival selections, then with the time remaining receiving tips from King, a former middle and high school band director. 

For SMC band musicians, it was an opportunity to tune up for their concert with SMC choirs on Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. The event culminates Single Reed Day, which offers master classes with saxophone and clarinet artists. 

The Symphonic Band previewed “Asylum Lake” from the “Among Us” concert spotlighting living composers. Chris Evan Hass visited the Jan. 25 rehearsal and fielded questions about composition, the creative process and the music industry. “Asylum Lake” was inspired by his observations of a Kalamazoo park. 

SMC President Dr. Joe Odenwald welcomed visitors.  

“I’m really proud of SMC’s arts programs,” he said. “We are a full college with what I call AAA status –excellent academics, excellent arts and excellent athletics. We’re very committed to the arts. At the end of October 2021, I filed paperwork with the State of Michigan to support a major project to renovate the Dale A. Lyons Building into a truly transformational facility.” 

Director of Choral Activities David Carew, who has been at SMC for 16 years, echoed Odenwald. 

“We definitely have a long tradition for excellence in performing arts,” he said, adding the spring musical “Godspell” opens Mar. 24. 

Carew acknowledged numerous “double threats” who sing in choirs and musicals as well as play instrumental music. Saxophonist Sam Loomis, who recently auditioned for Washington State, ran cross country as well. 

Carew also promoted the new Lyons Cup scholarship competition, during which which instrumentalists (Feb. 26) and vocalists (Mar. 5) compete for a top prize of $1,500.