Symphonic Wind Ensemble Earns The American Prize

ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble March 2020
File photo from an Arkansas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble performance in March 2020.

The Arkansas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble is the 2022 recipient of The American Prize in band and wind ensemble performance.

The award recognizes the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble’s recorded performances of “Symphony No. 2” by James Syler and “the softest breath” by Roy Magnuson.

The evaluation from The American Prize National Non-Profit Competitions in the Performing Arts offered congratulations to the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble for the quality of the recordings and went on to state that “these works allowed for the demonstration of your outstanding soloists as well as intricate technical prowess in a number of challenging areas.”

The recordings were released in spring 2021 by record label Tonsehen.

“I’m profoundly proud and grateful for our students, faculty and the folks at Tonsehen records who made this possible,” said Dr. Daniel A. Belongia, director of bands, professor of music and conductor of the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble. “This recognition from The American Prize National Non-Profit Competitions in the Performing Arts is a testament to our incredible students, colleagues, alumni and community support, and I hope that each of them takes great pride in this honor. Further, I hope that this recognition will draw further attention to the wonderful compositions in the recordings. They are new works that should be performed by wind ensembles everywhere. Collectively, we work every day to achieve significant contributions to the remarkable musical tradition at Arkansas Tech, and I’m so very grateful for this moment in our program’s history.

“This recording was the inaugural project of the Pat and Roger Wattam Archival Recording Series supported by the incredibly generous donations of our dear friends and alumni Pat and Roger Wattam,” continued Belongia. “It would not have been possible without their support as well as so many others in our ATU Friends of Music program, and that makes this national recognition even more meaningful.”

Christian Amonson, retired U.S. Marine Band recording engineer, captured the recordings with aid from producers Dr. TJ Perry of the ATU Department of Music faculty, former ATU Department of Music faculty member Dr. Jim Daughters as well as Syler and Magnuson. Neil Brown oversaw audio post production and Shelley Goldstein provided graphic design.

“This award is validation that the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble is one of the finest performing ensembles in the United States,” said Dr. Jeff Bright, head of the ATU Department of Music. “Dr. Belongia’s passion and support for creating new literature for the symphonic repertoire and his drive to make the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble one of the finest performance groups of its kind in the United States were evident to the evaluators. His ability to build partnerships with leading composers and producers around the country gives ATU students access to experiences they will remember for the rest of their lives. Above all, the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble earned The American Prize through the hard work and talents of the student performers and the musical mentorship of an amazing faculty brought together by the vision and leadership of Dr. Belongia.”

Copies of the CD are available for $9.99 by visiting The CD is also available by calling the ATU Department of Music at (479) 968-0368.

Proceeds from the sale of the CDs will be invested in the further development of the instrumental music program at Arkansas Tech.

Performers who appear on the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble recording include:

Ger Vang of Decatur
Anna Shain of Paragould
Diana Nava of Russellville
Miranda Kraus of Russellville
Meeka Smith of Muldrow, Okla.

Oboe/English Horn
Hannah Cochran of Russellville
Grace Davis of Cabot
Sarah Hooten of Russellville

Anna Bloodworth of Russellville
Megan McGinnis of Van Buren

Kaela Thompson of Berryville
Anna Shelton of Cabot
Piper Turner of Van Buren
Jessica Garrett of Little Rock
Morgan Bates of Cabot
Megan Garrett of Little Rock
Corrigan Burkett of Springdale

Low Clarinets
Shelby Horne of Greenwood
Piper Turner of Van Buren

Manuel Valente of Van Buren
Jordan Davis of DeWitt
Cole Birmingham of Russellville
Patricia Tobar of Rogers
Tina Christiansen of Van Buren

Garrett Napier of Greenwood
Sierra Visger-Napier of Clarksville
Jimmy Rhine of Cabot
Isaac Deaver of Fort Smith

David Hall of Cabot
Tyler Loretz of Castle Pines, Colo.
Triston Goss of Van Buren
Kiera Klein of Cabot
Malcolm Penka of Dover
Sanders Hilburn of Cabot
Josh Martin of Hot Springs

Jacob Hawkins of Cabot
Kaleb Collins of Springdale
Noah Ward of DeWitt
Billy Brown of Rogers

Bass Trombone
Riley Kelley of Russellville

Corey Nolan of Russellville
Ian Quinn of Green Forest

Michael Barker of Van Buren
Avery Langston of El Dorado
Katie Rodriguez of Russellville

Ian Neiswender of Cabot
Ethan Nooner of Hot Springs
Bryan Torres of Rogers
Adam Chasteen of Maumelle
Allison Spears of Van Buren
Bo Hamilton of Atkins
Alexis Harris of Dover
Blaed Walters of Muldrow, Okla.

Hauna Gardner of Dover

Tandem Young of Dover