Large Group Festival
On Thursday, March 16, 2023, during the school day, MHS Bands will host the 2nd annual Large Group Festival at Middleton High School. This year, 11 high school concert bands from Wisconsin will be judged by distinguished guest adjudicators Dr. Glenn C. Hayes (UW-Whitewater) and Scott Teeple (UW-Madison). This event is an opportunity for students to play for feedback and to hear other groups from around the state!
Director - Douglas J. BrownDouglas J. Brown, a native of Middleton, Wisconsin, earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. While there, he studied percussion with John Beck, Bill Cahn, and Ruth Cahn. He has performed professionally in and around the Rochester area, as well as in Wisconsin where he was Acting Principal Percussionist of the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra. During his time at Eastman, Mr. Brown established a series of music outreach events for inner-city schools, collaborating with the Eastman Wind Ensemble and the Eastman School Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Brown has taught general music at the Urban Choice Charter School in Rochester, New York, as well as Early Childhood Music at the Eastman Community Music School. In 2008, he began his Masters at Louisiana State University, studying Wind Conducting as a student of Frank Wickes. During his time at LSU, Mr. Brown served as a graduate conducting associate with the Symphonic Band, Symphonic Winds, and the Wind Ensemble, as well as a teaching assistant with the LSU Tiger Marching Band. Mr. Brown was an assistant student conductor with the Eastman Wind Orchestra, Eastman Wind Ensemble, LSU Big Band and Chamber Jazz Ensembles, the LSU Percussion Ensemble, as well as resident conductor for the LSU Horn Choir in their performance at the Southeast Regional Horn Conferences. Mr. Brown is in his fourth year as Director of Jazz Studies, Pep Bands, Percussion Ensemble, Marching Band, Hip Hop Education, and Co-Director of the Middleton High School Band Department. During his time at MHS, the Jazz program has grown from two ensembles to five and settled in at four this year. Over 175 students are now involved in the Jazz program, including members who are vocalists, orchestra musicians, rock band performers, and even recorder specialists. For the first time in the history of Middleton HS, the Seven O’Clock Jazz Band directed by Mr. Brown has advanced to the Essentially Ellington Competition and Festival in NYC. Over the past few years, the exemplary MHS Jazz Program has hosted world-renowned guest artists who have provided music education and provided students with the inspiration to continue making music an important part of their lives. Guest artists have included Ali Jackson and Victor Goines from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, The Jimmys, Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Allen Vizzutti with whom the band toured Japan, and in May 2019, Wayne Bergeron will guest star at MHS in a joint concert with the middle school band programs and the 4 MHS jazz ensembles. The concert ensembles at MHS have also seen an overhaul and now include four large band ensembles and an audition-based Wind Ensemble with 44 students. Mr. Brown has created a program that provides students with opportunities for individualized instruction and small group instruction. Artistic staff members with specialization on specific instruments help with each students' progress on their respective instruments and provide valuable collaboration among teachers and students. Members of the MHS Bands participated in over 300 events at the WSMA Solo and Ensemble Festival in 2019 and will send over 100 qualifying events to the State Solo & Ensemble Festival in April 2019. For the past three years, Mr. Brown’s percussion class has competed at the Percussive Arts Society International Competition in the chamber ensemble division, solo marimba division, rudimental snare competition, and solo timpani division. Students have earned scholarships for world-renowned festivals, colleges, summer music clinics and are earning acceptance into the nation’s top musical institutions. Before Mr. Brown’s arrival at MHS, the marching program was non-competitive and only rehearsed during the school day. He has helped transform the participation to a volunteer organization with an MHS record-making 198 members. For the 2019-2020 marching season, the MHS Bands will perform a “marching band” show titled “Electric Counterpoint” that encompasses a juxtaposition of acoustic and electric music. The show will feature students enrolled in Mr. Brown’s Evolution of Hip Hop course alongside colleagues of the MHS Band Department. Mr. Brown has had the opportunity to work with a diverse group of composers and arrangers throughout his conducting and performance tenure, including Joseph Schwantner, Bill Conti, Steven Stucky, John Mackey, Rolf Rudin, Mark Scatterday, Donald Huntsberger, and Frederick Fennell. He has also had the pleasure of working with many solo artists including Bill Cahn, Bob Becker, Nexus Percussion Group, Kroumata Percussion, Brian Shaw, Brett William Dietz, and Halie Silverman. He most recently attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education where he worked with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. After the completion of this program, Mr. Brown organized and conducted a high school ensemble performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City and a side-by-side with musicians from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. He also attended the Essentially Ellington Band Director Academy in NYC as well as the Hip Hop in the Heartland Summer Institute. In March, Mr. Brown will attend the OUSD African American Male Achievement Symposium to engage in transformative schooling discussions for African American Boys k-12. Mr. Brown has been nominated for the Kohl Teacher Fellowship, The Grammy Music Educator Award, and Crystal Apple Award.
Director - Michael Ver VoortMichael Ver Voort is in his fifth year as a music teacher at Middleton High School. In addition to five curricular band classes, Mr. Ver Voort teaches general music courses on music production and rock history. He also serves as assistant coach for the school's men's swim team. Mr. Ver Voort graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with degrees in Music Education and Neurobiology. Outside of the high school, Mr. Ver Voort maintains a small trumpet studio and performs with several local ensembles.
Director - Eric RothackerEric Rothacker is a graduate of the University of Michigan and is a student of Dr. Jeffrey Lyman and Dr. Colleen Conway (B.M. in Bassoon Performance '18, B.M. in Music Education '18). Eric also completed his student teaching with Mr. Nate Lampman, the Michigan Association of Teacher Educators Mentor Teacher of the Year (2018). During his education, Eric worked with the conducting and music education faculty on conducting and rehearsal pedagogy to achieve higher artistry with ensembles. Eric led multiple full ensemble clinics for high school bands from the greater Ann Arbor area under the direction of Dr. John Pasquale to highlight effective and efficient methods of communication of an aural analysis from the directors perspective as well as reaching superior performance strategies through regimented fundamental technique for players. He also assisted with bassoon pedagogy research for Dr. Jeffrey Lyman to help write and create a virtual supplement to the most commonly used bassoon method book in the world, Weissenborn's Practical Method for Bassoon. Eric is also a published researcher in the Michigan Music Education Association research publication Michigan Music Educator v. 55 Summer Edition. His article featured research collected from educators across multiple states including California, Massachusetts, Virginia, Texas, and Michigan covering “Observations from Recent Hires in Music Education”. Being a proficient trombonist and brass instructor, Eric was also fortunate to intern for Dr. Andrea Brown at the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps teaching and instructing the entire 2016 hornline and conductors in conjunction with the Brass and Program Staff. Eric has also been in charge of leading conducting clinics and camps for Drum Majors across several states as well as caption head for the Briar Woods Falcon Regiment from 2013-2017. Knowing that education involves being a lifelong learner, Eric strives for higher artistry through visual communication techniques and ensemble conducting. In this pursuit, he has been accepted to participate and learn at multiple conducting symposiums from thousands of national candidates including events at Michigan State University, University of Oregon, and Northwestern University. Eric is a passionate and dedicated teacher who enjoys sharing music and life lessons with his students. He believes in the importance of making music available and accessible to everyone. Eric strives for each of his students to become lifelong learners by teaching important life skills through music. Currently, Eric is enjoying his first year as Associate Director of Bands at Middleton High School in Middleton, Wisconsin where he teaches multiple general music classes, jazz bands, marching band, pep band, and five curricular wind ensembles. He believes in the importance of opportunities for his students and enjoys collaborating with his coworkers to bring prominent educators, experts, clinicians, and artists to Middleton such as the Akropolis Reed Quintet. Outside of teaching, Eric enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, discussing film scores, and spending time with friends.