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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Meet Chad Nicholson, UA’s new director of bands

Jesus Barrera
Director of Bands and associate professor of music Chad Nicholson poses in his office on Tuesday, Aug. 29.

Chad R. Nicholson, an educator and experienced performer in music, has been appointed the new director of bands at UA.

Nicholson, who will conduct the UA Wind Ensemble and the Chamber Winds, will also teach undergraduate and graduate wind conducting students.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the university to have someone of Chad’s experience be able to step in,” said Edward Reid, a UA professor of music. “We’re really lucky and I am really looking forward to seeing how he does with the ensembles.”

READ: Meet the Pride of Arizona’s New Director, Chad Shoopman

Nicholson, who came from the University of Delaware, worked as a conductor before at Indiana University-Purdue, University Fort Wayne and Colorado State University.

Nicholson was the first conductor invited to lead the Shanghai International School Honor Band in 2014, and in 2015 he was a part of the international panel of adjudicators for the All-Chinese Wind Band Contest.

“Chad is bringing a completely different look and a different sound to the wind ensemble,” Reid said. “He does have a different perspective coming from someplace else. I expect him to continue his excellence and to move forward as music progresses in the 21st century.”

READ: A Musical Oasis: The Santa Cruz Summer Winds

Nicholson is also an active author. He has published and contributed to books that help conductors’ repertoire selection and provide rehearsal techniques for band directors. He has also published articles in The Instrumentalist and in eight volumes of “Teaching Music through Performance in Band.”

“It’s a really great opportunity to be director here at the UA,” Nicholson said. “First of all, to build upon the legacy that Gregg Hanson [former UA director of bands] built here over his 26 years in his position at UA. In a way, it’s a chance to stand on the shoulders of someone who did a lot for the university and the students.”

Nicholson is new to Tucson and has only been at UA for about six weeks.

“I’m gonna be looking into ways to explore technology or types of music, or places we perform or creative ways to provide interactive experiences for audiences,” Nicholson said. “I think that we need to be very creative and cutting edge in the way we connect with people. Not only is there science that supports what music can do for the brain, in addition to that music is a language that is unique. It is its own artistic language.”

Nicholson said that keeping the universal concept of teaching students and providing something that the audience enjoys is a core for what will help him address new and different things in his position.

“He is a younger guy that brings a lot of energy and excitement to the podium when he is conducting,” said Cory Driscoll, a musical arts graduate student. “[Nicholson] always has a goal in mind and he shares that with the students. He is very upbeat — if something isn’t working he’ll break it down into something that starts to work.”

Before his position at UA, Nicholson fostered his teaching experience by working with a wide set of ages and ensemble types at both the university and high school levels.

“He wants to do lots of things with the wind ensemble, not just do two or three concerts a semester,” Driscoll said. “He’s trying to find ways to shape the future and find ways for people to get involved with the band or the wind ensemble to be involved with them.”

Nicholson said his interest in music began when he joined his school’s marching band, where he felt he was doing something unique that he could take with him and use as common ground with new people.

“It’s definitely a goal for me — not only for the university, but also for the state of Arizona— to find ways to invigorate people and to help them have that moment of understanding and excitement that [they] didn’t know that they were going to have,” Nicholson said. “I just need to try to find ways to help the university connect with people so that we can keep this art form going because it is a meaningful part of the human experience.”

Follow Angela Martinez on Twitter.

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