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Archive for Wednesday, May 23, 2007

New KU director of bands says ‘less is more’ when on podium

May 23, 2007

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Kansas University has a new director of bands who believes that, sometimes, it's what you don't do with the baton that matters most.

"So often, conductors get in the way of ensembles. They're up there flailing away," said Scott A. Weiss, who will move to Lawrence this summer and begin his job in the fall.

Weiss, 39, comes to KU from Indiana University, where he is the associate director of bands and an associate professor of music. He previously was director of bands at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

He replaces John P. Lynch, who has held the job since 2002 and recently took a job as director of bands at the University of Georgia.

Weiss' responsibilities will include overseeing all band programs at KU, including athletic bands, and running the graduate wind conducting program. He said a good band director must be skilled in conducting, communication, teaching and motivating - in addition to being a top-notch musician.

"There are folks out there that are beautiful physical conductors, but when the music stops, they're unable to effectively communicate what it is they want or effectively motivate and energize an ensemble," he said.

Weiss said he holds a "less-is-more" philosophy when it comes to movement on the podium. To illustrate that, he reminds students that if you paint something on a blank canvas, it stands out, but if you paint something on a messy background, you can't see it.

"I've had people say to me, 'It doesn't look like you're doing that much,'" he said. "It's a lot harder than it looks, though."

Larry Mallett, chairman of the KU department of music and dance, said in a prepared statement that Weiss "brings outstanding academic credentials and exceptional professional experience" to the job.

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