Chip Birkner, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the University of Florida’s School of Music. He is the director of both the Spring Concert Band and the Athletic Pep Band. Birkner was asked to guest conduct the Wind Symphony Concert Band at McNeese State University (MSU) by Jay Jacobs, the band’s director. Like Birkner, Jacobs too is a Gator alumnus.
“It is so nice to connect, and reconnect, with fellow Gators that are making music across the United States,” Birkner said. “I’m proud and impressed with the work Dr. Jacobs has done.”
The piece he conducted at MSU was called “Affirmation,” which was originally composed by Wayne Oquin. Birkner only had one day to rehearse before the show with the band of 60 musicians. The day before the show he was asked to give a master class at the university. The class centered on a conductors thought process, what a percussionist should expect from him or her, and how they go about preparing their music.
“The master class I gave was a blend of the two things that I do: conducting and being a percussionist,” Birkner said.
With more than 70 people in attendance, the class took place on April 30 during the Southwest Louisiana Day of Percussion.
“It was a very good experience because students at MSU are very serious about their musicianship,” Birkner said. “There was a storm going on that day during the class, and students were still attentive and on time.”