Ninth Annual YSU Wind and Percussion Invitational Set to Take Stage

By Scott Williams

A special musical collaboration of northeast Ohio music programs will gather to perform at Youngstown’s Stambaugh Auditorium on Friday, Feb. 27. The event, presented by the Dana School of Music, is the “Ninth Annual YSU Wind and Percussion Invitational.”

The Poland Seminary High School Wind Ensemble, directed by Nicholas Olesko, and the Wadsworth High School Symphonic Band, directed by Steven Hadgis, will take turns performing Friday night with YSU’s Percussion Ensemble, directed by Glenn Schaft, and YSU’s Wind Ensemble, directed by Steven Gage.

“This is the ninth year that we have hosted this event,” Gage said. “It is an idea that I stole when I was a high school band director in upstate New York.”

Gage added that the event is an all-day affair.

“We bring two high school bands — historically it’s been a local school and a school from a little further away — and spend a day working on music. They arrive in the early afternoon here at Bliss Hall, and they participate in master classes with the Dana faulty. All of the instruments meet with their specific professor for one hour,” he said. “When they finish their master classes, they get back on the bus, and they go to Stambaugh Auditorium where they have about one hour on that glorious stage to rehearse in preparation of the night concert.”

The concert that starts off the day begins at 7 p.m. This year’s program will begin with the YSU Percussion Ensemble performing an exotic arrangement on the hand drums. Following that, each high school group will perform their contest set, which includes a march and two concert pieces.

After a short intermission, YSU’s Wind Ensemble will take center stage — featuring horn soloist Stacie Mickens, assistant professor at YSU. To conclude the concert, senior band members from both high schools will join the YSU Wind Ensemble for the concert finale of “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” our national march, by John Philip Sousa.

“It’s a really nice collaborative event for our music education students, which we have a lot,” Gage said. “I think it is a good aural bath for them to see and hear two terrific high school ensembles perform. I think it is great for those kids to get a chance to work and interact with our students and with faculty.”

Caitlin McCoy, a principle flutist with YSU’s Wind Ensemble, said as a high school student she played at the event.

“It was honestly the reason why I auditioned here at YSU,” McCoy said. “We are really blessed to have an amazing faculty.”

While this event is to help develop the abilities of the high school groups attending, Gage couldn’t help but brag some about YSU’s ensemble.

“The Wind Ensemble just came back from a tour. We played two high schools in Cleveland area and were a featured performer at the 2015 Ohio Music Educators Association state conference,” he said. “For the nine times that I’ve been here, they’ve been a featured performer, so they’re pretty smoking.”

The cost to attend this event is $5 for adults, $4 for students and senior citizens and free admission with a valid YSU ID. General admission tickets may be purchased at the Stambaugh Auditorium Box Office in person, by phone at 330-259-0555 or online at