Holiday band concert connects USSBA colleagues

Ridgewood performance features Salfelder's work

Ridgewood HS concert

USSBA connections at a recent holiday concert included, left to right, Jackie Sarracco, Ramapo Regional HS; Jim Mallen USSBA adjudicator; Joe Stella, Parsippany HS; Kathryn Salfelder; Richard Summers, Pequannock HS (past director); Jeff Bittner, Mahwah HS; Mark Donellan, Paramus HS; Dr. Christian Wilhjelm, Ridgewoood Concert Band Director.  Not pictured:  Max Taylor, Vernon HS; Brian Timmons, Bergenfield HS 

Where do band directors, a US Scholastic Band Association judge and show staff get together in December?  No, not at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown, Pa., but at a recent performance of the Ridgewood Concert Band Band in New Jersey, where several high school band directors and a USSBA judge are members.  At the band’s Dec. 4th concert, the program selections included Cathedrals, a composition by Kathryn Salfelder, who just happens to be a former Fair Lawn High School band member and a tabulator and assistant coordinator for USSBA events in Massachusetts and Connecticut. 

Salfelder is an accomplished composer, whose works have been performed by numerous university and professional wind ensembles.  Ridgewood Director Dr. Chris Wilhjelm feels her Cathedrals, based on an original work by Gabrieli, is a stunning and very exciting composition. 

“Kathryn's musical thought bring this to a new and very dynamic conclusion. She is a wonderful compositional talent, welcomed by the entire music community.  Better yet, she is a lovely person. We were thrilled to present this piece for her local community,” Wilhjelm said. 

Salfelder credits Paul Kafer, her band director and music teacher at Fair Lawn, with introducing her to the world of winds and percussion, encouraging her to apply to music school, and inspiring her to write for wind band.  As a pit percussion player, she recalls her first USSBA marching band show at JP Stevens High School.  “I will never forget dragging my marimba a half mile around the school, only to discover we had started just yards from the entrance gate. Nonetheless, I was hooked; where else do you get to perform for a crowd larger than at any football game, wander and explore the grounds of a new school, meet other band kids. And it’s all capped by the thrill of an awards ceremony!” 

While studying at the New England Conservatory, Salfelder joined the USSBA show staff team. 

“As a ‘closet’ marching band/drum corps fan in a world of conservatory musicians, I was eager to once again be involved in the marching world. I noticed there were openings for fall Show Staff and thought, what a great gig. As it turns out, it is!  The people are wonderful: passionate, genuine, and eager to create a memorable experience for the kids. It is very interesting to have experienced “both sides” within just a few years,” Salfelder said. “A USSBA event is similar to performing on the field: there are openers, closers, moments of frenzy, calm…but in the end you leave the field with the feeling you’ve created an experience for someone, and a smile that lasts for days.” 

The Paramus High School Band, under the direction of Mark Donellan, also appeared in pre-concert performance. The Ridgewood concert was received by an enthusiastic standing room only audience.  All together in one place - band directors, a USSBA judge and tabulator.  The score was a perfect 100!

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