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Aspiring Musicians Take Center Stage at Carroll University

Teens from throughout Waukesha County participate in the Youth Wind Orchestra of Wisconsin, which celebrated its 10th anniversary with a concert at Carroll University.

Students from across Waukesha County joined together Friday night at the Shattuck Auditorium at The Youth Wind Orchestra of Wisconsin held their first performance this year, celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The concert was rescheduled due to inclement weather on March 2, but did not stop the nearly 100 supporting friends and family that gathered and the 55 students that put on a successful show.

“The kids played well, especially for not having played for two weeks together,” Conductor Andy Hacker said.

YWOW is a select group of young aspiring musicians, from eighth grade into high school, all from Waukesha County. It is a 45-piece wind ensemble that meets only once a week to rehearse. Principal conductor and cofounder Lawrence Dale Harper said it is a way to bring talent beyond school bands and to a whole other level.

“Number one: the group is very passionate about what they do, and number two: they are very skilled at what they do,” Harper said.

He also says that it is a great way to see the students at both a personal standpoint as well as a musical standpoint; watching them develop in both. Now, one of their own and a proud Carroll College graduate runs the show. Hacker is Waukesha South’s band director and was a YWOW musician for five years. He helps conduct at an even more passionate and energetic level than when he played.

“When Carroll calls me, I can’t ever say no, it’s just too much fun,” Hacker said. “I have a fond attachment to Carroll but really a fond attachment to this group specifically.”

Hacker did not stand alone. Michael Zens, a past band director in the Waukesha school district, intertwined his roles as conductor for Friday night’s performance.

Executive Director Robb Seftar greeted the crowd in between performances to show his support and appreciation. He announced that YWOW holds auditions every year during the last week of April into the first week of May. He said YWOW is “going as strong as we can possibly make it in Waukesha County.”

“The community’s support can’t be topped in Waukesha, in terms of music,” Hacker said. “Carroll is just drawing people in left and right to see the value that music can bring.”

YWOW starts their season in the fall of every year, performing one concert before winter, one in March, and one at the end of their season in May. This May will be slightly different for Hacker and the musicians. The group will welcome Rick Kirby, the music director of the Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, which has been around since 1976.

“It’s primarily for the students,” Harper said.

And YWOW continues to play a part with its students, past their high school years.

“They really help define, for me, what the essence of music is,” Hacker said.

The special tribute to Rick Kirby and the final concert for the 2011-2012 school year will be at 8 p.m. May 18.

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