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Hundreds join Centennial Celebration Concert

Over 125 alumni, community members talk about what the IW Music Department means to them

GTNS photo by Grace King

Michael Knight, associate professor of music at Iowa Wesleyan University, directs the band during the Centennial Celebration Concert on Saturday, April 13. Alumni, community members and current students were invited to join the band or choir for this special celebration concert.
GTNS photo by Grace King Michael Knight, associate professor of music at Iowa Wesleyan University, directs the band during the Centennial Celebration Concert on Saturday, April 13. Alumni, community members and current students were invited to join the band or choir for this special celebration concert.
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Generations of people with different life experiences, graduates of Iowa Wesleyan University, current students and area residents who have been positively affected by music coming out of the college sang together and played together for a Centennial Celebration Concert on Saturday, April 13, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Music Department.

The Centennial Celebration Concert invited anyone with a love for Iowa Wesleyan University (IW) and a passion for music to play in the band or sing in the choir on Saturday. They rehearsed Saturday afternoon and were invited to tour the campus in between rehearsals and a celebration dinner for the over 125 participants.

Blair Buffington, director of choral activities at IW, said the concert was about “fostering connections” with people while marking another huge milestone for the university.

Jay Hauenstein, of Columbus Junction, graduated from IW in 1981, has taught as an adjunct professor at IW and performs in the Southeast Iowa Band. The IW chapel stage is like his second home.

“A hundred years of music makes me feel pretty old,” Havenstein admitted while adding it’s a “fantastic” feat. “We ought to do more (celebration concerts) and not wait another 100 years,” he said.

Celebrating the longevity of IW’s Music Department is important because music is “the humanity of our society,” Hauenstein said. “It tames the best,” he said.

Katherine Smith, of Iowa City, studied music at IW and graduated in 1980. She is retiring this year after 39 years of teaching music. During Katherine’s time at IW, she said she found the connections she made with teachers and fellow students important to her education.

“It was a very personal education. It’s a small college, and you get to know everybody very well,” Katherine said.

Katherine met her husband Steve Smith, a 1978 graduate, at IW while on a choir tour. Steve was proud to be performing in the Centennial Celebration Concert Saturday.

The IW Music Department “made a huge impact on all of us,” Steve said.

Arnel Baughman, of Washington, is a 1980 graduate from IW, where she attended because she wanted to be able to perform as well as get a degree in nursing.

“The Music Department is what propelled me to play in a band and sing in church choir,” Baughman said.

Mark Philgreen, of Manchester, graduated from IW in 1982.

“I wouldn’t have missed this,” Philgreen said while rehearsing to be in the choir for the Centennial Celebration Concert. “I’ve known since I was in school that I would be a band director. (IW) continued my passion.”

Mary Priebe, of Burlington, is not an alumna of IW, but she has played in the Southeast Iowa Band since 1965.

“Iowa Wesleyan has always been warm and welcoming,” Mary said as she readied her clarinet to perform.

Mary said celebrating 100 years of the IW Music Department is a “wonderful thing.” For Mary, music is “great therapy and a great time to be with friends.”

Jim Priebe, her husband, started playing in the Southeast Iowa Symphony in 1965. He’s played countless concerts on the IW chapel stage, and he was honored to play a part in celebrating the 100th anniversary of their Music Department.

“Wesleyan is near and dear and important to performing arts (in Southeast Iowa),” Jim said.

Graci Cabello is a freshman at IW studying music education. Cabello said in Rockford, Ill., where she’s from, music isn’t very important. At IW, music is a “big deal,” and it brings the community together, she said.

“I didn’t expect to celebrate 100 years of music,” Cabello said. “It’s a lot of fun. Even the pieces we’re playing reflect the history of Iowa Wesleyan.”

Cabello said she hopes she has as much to offer as IW has offered her. At IW, she has met lifelong friends and mentors. IW has “everything I want in a school,” she said.

Trevor Haasis, of Williamsburg, is currently studying criminal justice at IW. Singing in the choir on Saturday, Haasis said that it was great to sing with people with a lot more life experience than him.

“Music is something that brings us together. It’s great to experience the love of music,” Haasis said.