Winners of WMU Concerto Competition Preview Sunday's Concert

Apr 20, 2018

2nd year master's student Will Ford, senior Evan Leffert, and sophomore Andrew Keating.
Credit Evgeniya (Jane) Kozhevnikova

The WMU Symphony Orchestra will present the 59th Annual Concerto Concert as its last concert of the 2017–18 season on Sunday, April 22 at 3 p.m. in Miller Auditorium.  The three soloists - trombonist William Ford, alto saxophonist Andrew Keating, and marimbist Evan Leffert - joined Cara Lieurance in the studio to talk about their backgrounds, and how they prepared for the concert.

From a WMU School of Music press release:

William Ford, Trombone 

Will is a graduate assistant in the School of Music working toward his Master of Music degree in trombone performance. He has enjoyed success by being selected as Principal Trombone and soloist with the 2017 American Wind Symphony Orchestra. Prior to attending Western, he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in jazz studies from James Madison University, where he graduated in 2016. At James Madison, Ford was selected to attend the 2014 Sulzbach-Rosenberg International Music Festival in Germany as a soloist and orchestral member. He was also a finalist representing the brass and percussion area in the 2016 Concerto Competition. Ford has accepted a trombone teaching assistantship, beginning in the fall of 2018 at Louisiana State University, where he will be pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree under the guidance of LSU trombone professor and 2011 WMU graduate Hana Beloglavec. His primary teachers have been Dr. Steve Wolfinbarger, Dr. Andrew Lankford, Dr. Chuck Dotas, and Mr. Bob Hallahan. Ford is a Brother of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America. 

Andrew Keating, Saxophone 

Andrew moved to Kalamazoo from Ortonville, Mich. where he attended Brandon High School. Keating performed in various ensembles in his high school, including concert band, jazz band, marching band, and musical theater pit orchestras. As a high school student, Keating studied saxophone at Grand Blanc Music with Scott Brady. Some of Andrew’s accomplishments as a high school saxophonist include playing in the Michigan State Youth Wind Symphony, the WMU All-Star Band, and the MSBOA All-State Band. During Keating’s last two years in high school, he began studying flute with Jessica Cech and piano with Julie Locks. Keating is currently in his second year at WMU, studying saxophone with Dr. Andrew Rathbun. As a college student, he has played in the WMU Symphonic Band and in the studio saxophone quartet. Keating has continued his flute studies at WMU with graduate assistants Heidi Keener and Pablo Sanchez. He is also a student in the multimedia arts technology program and enjoys studying music technology and working with electronic music .

Kyle Evan Leffert, Percussion

Kyle Evan Leffert is a percussion performance and music composition major currently completing his final year in both programs. Originally from Novi, Michigan, Evan was an involved performer in his high school program, both going on to perform in several honors ensembles, and won both the John Phillip Sousa Award and was a 2nd place recipient for the soloist competition held by the Michigan Confederation of Music Clubs. In the beginning of his college career, he went on to perform for two years with the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps, later performing with the same group of percussionists at PASIC in 2016. His time as a WMU student, Leffert’s involvement was diverse and focused on immersion in the musical community. He has performed dozens of student composer pieces, and has been a member of the University Symphony Orchestra, Birds on a Wire, Symphonic Band, Percussion Ensemble, and has been involved in smaller chamber groups as well. He has also assisted or been involved in collaborations with Western Winds, University Jazz Orchestra, Advanced Jazz Ensemble, WMU’s Theatre Program, Gold Company, and the WMU Trombone Choir. Evan is also both a private instructor and teaches intermittently as a percussion technician for multiple schools in the area. Leffert became heavily involved in premiering works written by WMU composers, first performing consistently on the composition recitals, but then also going on to perform Nathan Haering’s Resplendent Shards at a number of festivals, performing both in the Midwest as well as in Toronto, Canada. The following year, he went as a collaborating performer to the SPLICE Institute for electroacoustic music held at WMU in 2017, and the Sandbox Percussion Seminar held in New York City. He will be attending the same festivals again this year, and recently both performed a work by another WMU composer, as well as premiered his own for trumpet, horn and electronics, at the CHIME Festival held in Chicago earlier this April.

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