Students from University of the Cumberlands recently participated in the 2024 Kentucky Intercollegiate Band and All-Collegiate Choir held in conjunction with the Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) Conference held in Louisville, Kentucky. The students joined collegiate musicians from several other Kentucky colleges and universities to form a symphonic band and an SSAATTBB collegiate choir that rehearsed together for just two days prior to performing at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.

“Every school who nominates students for the different bands and choirs make sure their students are performing at a very high level,” said David Threlkeld, chair of the Department of Music at Cumberlands. “Every music student, at some point, if they excel, they hope they get to be part of something like these groups. It’s encouraging for them, and it’s also good networking, because sometimes they’ll run into musicians they meet here again at other events in the future. They’re making connections.”

Cumberlands students who participated in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Band were sophomore music major Hayden Huff on trumpet, senior music education major Robert Lewis on clarinet, senior music education major Chris Miller on alto saxophone, and sophomore music major Mickee Stevens on flute.

Mickee said, “This was my first time being in the Intercollegiate Band. I was in honor bands in high school, but none of them matched the experience I had making music with some of the best college musicians in the state. It gave me a new kind of motivation for practicing and learning. I am extremely grateful for the experience!”

The 100-plus voice choir, in association with the American Choral Directors Association, was directed by world renowned composer/conductor Dr. Michael John Trotta. Cumberlands students who performed were junior music education major Eric Gabbard (baritone), junior music education major Sophia Cornett (soprano), junior music education major Jazzlyn Threlkeld (alto), and senior music minor Bradley Wheeler (tenor).

Threlkeld served as coordinator and conductor of the 2024 Kentucky Intercollegiate Jazz Ensemble during the KMEA conference. The ensemble consisted of select jazz musicians from eight universities across Kentucky.

“It was a great thrill to get to work with many of the finest young jazz musicians from around the state,” said Threlkeld. “These students prepared and rehearsed like pros, and their performance was outstanding! It was even more special because I got to share the experience with Chris Miller, one of my saxophone students here at Cumberlands, who played in the ensemble.”

Chris Miller is a senior music education major from Dry Ridge, Kentucky. Threlkeld is currently completing his 34th year as a professor of music at Cumberlands.

Threlkeld mentioned the impact that this kind of recognition – being invited to perform among the more elite musicians and vocalists in Kentucky colleges – has on students.

“Recognition like this is very important,” he said. “They’re being recognized for the great work they’ve done, recognized as someone who excels at what they do. One of the students, a sophomore, mentioned to me how inspiring it was to be part of this because she now realizes she can compete at this level, so she wants to work hard to have the opportunity again.”

Overall, though the experience involved a lot of work for the students, practicing for weeks before arriving at the conference, and for Dr. Threlkeld, who put in a lot of work to coordinate and conduct the jazz ensemble, in the end, they all had a lot of fun. It’s a special experience they’re all hoping to enjoy again.