Prairie Wind Ensemble Conductor Stepping Down

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The Prairie Wind Ensemble under the direction of Mr. Robert Sheldon will be presenting their concert on Friday, Dec. 10,  at 7:30 p.m. at Illinois Central College Performing Arts Center. This concert will be the final concert for Mr. Sheldon at the podium as the ensemble's conductor as he assumes more responsibilities as conductor, composer, clinician and Concert Band Editor for the Alfred Publishing Company.  

Mr. Sheldon has served as conductor of the Prairie Wind Ensemble for the past seven years. As quoted from the PWE Board Chairman, Dan Dietrich, "Bob has done an amazing job as the conductor of the PWE.  His musicianship and programming have been outstanding and his connection with the international band world has provided the PWE some wonderful performance opportunities."

Under Mr. Sheldon, the group has performed at the National Band

Association's Young Composer/Conductor Mentor Program, Mid-West

International Band and Orchestra Conference as well as the Illinois Music Educators Association's All-state Conference. The ensemble will perform with Mr. Sheldon one final time at this year's IMEA All-state Conference in January 2011.

For this final concert, Mr. Sheldon has selected some interesting and

challenging music for the ensemble. Music for this concert will include

"Firebird Suite" by Igor Stravinsky, transcription by Randy Earles and

edited by Frederick Fennell. The Firebird is the story of the Firebird, a

beautiful ballerina and a young prince. "Fantasia on a 13th Century Carol" by James Hosay will conducted by Lisa Sargeant who is a member of the PWE trumpet section.  "Nitro for Concert Band" by Frank Ticheli will be performed. Nitro is a short work of brilliance and light that is a sheer celebration of sound and fury. "Aria" by E. Bozza features saxophone soloist Robert Sibbing.  Dr. Sibbing is Professor of Music Emeritus at Western Illinois University and he continues to perform in concert bands, orchestras, pit orchestras, jazz bands and ensembles.  He has performed at the World Saxophone Congresses at Toronto, Bordeaux, London, Nuremburg and in the United States at Northwestern University. Dr. Sibbing is a member of the ensemble's clarinet section.

In addition, other selections for the concert include "Greensleeves", one of the oldest secular pieces of music which was arranged in 1961 by Alfred Reed;  "Gloria" by Randol Alan Bass and "Hill-Song No. 2" by Percy Aldridge Grainger. This composition is one of two Hill Songs written by Grainger out of "thoughts  about, and longing for, the wilderness, the freshness, the purity of the hill-countries, hill-peoples, and hill-musics." The final selection for the concert will be the favorite "A Most Wonderful Christmas" arranged by Robert Sheldon.  

The Prairie Ensemble will present their second semester concerts as

scheduled.  The ensemble has secured the services of two outstanding guest conductors while finalizing our search for Mr. Sheldon's replacement. Joe Roman, Music Education Instructor at Bradley University and former director of bands at Canton High School will be on the podium for the March concert as well as a joint-concert at Western Illinois University in early March.

The March concert will also feature our high school band competition winner. Mr. John Bell, director of bands at Southern Illinois University,

Edwardsville will take the podium for the May concert which will feature our student soloist winner.

The Prairie Wind Ensemble is a 70-member adult symphonic band with

membership drawn from central Illinois and the greater Peoria area. The

ensemble is in residence at Illinois Central College, East Peoria, IL and

gratefully acknowledges the support of ICC, the Chairman of the Fine Arts Department, and music staff that help make the union possible. The PWE has a rich history owed to its founder, Conductor Emeritus Dr. Donald Lewellen, who created the ensemble in 1977. Dr. Lewellen led the ensemble until his retirement in 2003.

The ensemble membership represents many professional backgrounds.

Approximately 70 percent of members are current or retired professional music educators. The remaining 30 percent represent a diverse set of occupations including recording technician, nurse, educator, anesthesiologist, information technologist, electronics technician, engineer, attorney, homemaker, electrician, retail manager, and project manager. Members are from Knoxville, Canton, Macomb,Bloomington,Normal, Peoria Heights, Washington, North Pekin,Marquette Heights, Avon, Morton, Cuba, Galesburg,

Chillicothe, Dunlap,Glasford, Mapleton, Bartonville, Metamora, Germantown Hills,Marseilles,Farmington, Elmwood as well as Peoria, Eaast Peoria and Morton.

Tickets are $7 per concert, $5 for students and seniors. Children

under 12 are free. Tickets may be purchased through the Illinois Central

College Performing Arts Center by phone ((309) 694-5136) or in person. There is limited availability at the door the day of the performance.

Further information, pictures, contacts and updates for the ensemble can be found on the website:

Chairman of the PWE Board: Dan Dietrich, or 309-691-8711 Elizabeth Lehnhausen Driscoll, PWE Publicity  or by phone 309-635-6389