For South Dakota State University senior music major Julia Okerman, this summer brought about an exciting opportunity.
The trumpeter earned a place in the Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma National Intercollegiate Band, the nation’s oldest national honor band, which gathered in July to perform at Oklahoma State University.
“I enjoyed meeting new people who traveled from around the country to participate in this band,” Okerman said. “Their experiences provided fresh perspectives that made me think about music and performance in new and different ways.”
For her audition, she had to prepare two pieces—one to showcase technique and another for style and musicality. Normally, preparing the materials wouldn’t have posed much of a problem for the senior, but by the time she heard about the opportunity, time was running short.
She decided to submit a technical etude she had previously worked on for her first piece, but she still had to submit something for the second requirement.
Okerman normally spends several weeks, sometimes a whole semester, to make sure a solo is polished. This time around, she selected, learned and performed the audition in a span of two weeks.
“I was very excited to be selected, especially since my audition was prepared so close to the deadline and not my most polished work,” she said. “However, I was most excited to have the opportunity to travel and meet new people who truly have a love for creating music.”
The Fairmont, Minnesota, native performs in both the Wind Symphony and The Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band and her talents and love of music is noticed by the faculty.
“Julia is a terrific student who works very hard both inside and outside the classroom,” said David Reynolds, the School of Performing Arts’ director and professor of music. “Being selected to participate in this ensemble is a very high honor and working with such highly known conductors is certain to add to her musical development.”
The band’s guest conductor was Jerry Junkin, conductor of the Dallas Wind Symphony and a distinguished professor for the University of Texas at Austin. Students also had the privilege of commissioning a new piece by composer Joel Puckett, who worked with the band during rehearsals.
“It was very refreshing to perform alongside the members of this band, as they were all extremely passionate about music,” Okerman said. “Some of the participants were graduate students in instrumental performance and their experience and talent was inspiring. The high level of musicianship surrounding me created a fun and productive environment for learning and performing our music.”