February 21, 2018 9:00AM
"I walked into the conversation, said I would be happy to conduct and organize a group, and within 30 minutes we had a personnel roster built," Fuchs said.
They began contacting colleagues and peers and by late June, had pulled together a group that performed a Fourth of July concert in Carl Junction, Missouri.
"I asked if they wanted to try to sustain the group and they said 'Yes'," Fuchs said.
Calling themselves the Four State Symphonic Winds, the held a subsequent concert in October in Webb City, Missouri, followed by one at Missouri Southern State University in December. Their final concert of the season will be held Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts at Pittsburg State.
The group is comprised of public school music teachers, collegiate music teachers, music students from PSU and MSSU, and accomplished community musicians from the region.
"Since it is a regional ensemble, we are trying to move our concerts around to serve the entire region," said Fuchs, who conducts the group.
Jennifer Sager, band director at Carthage High School, said being in the ensemble has filled a void and has perhaps inspired her students.
"It is a fantastic way for us to stay current on our instruments," Sager said. "Playing is something that we all enjoyed doing students and we chose it as a profession."
Sager said she has enjoyed being able to share her love for playing and performing with students in a different way by inviting them to come to her concerts.
"Our students have the opportunity to see us on the other side of the baton is another learning experience. My students have had first-hand experience seeing me practice for something," she said. "I consider this ensemble a blessing and especially being led by Craig Fuchs, who has been in this area for a long time and a mentor to so many musicians both young and old."
Fuchs sends out music about two weeks before the first rehearsal for each concert and everyone is expected to prepare their parts. They have just three, two-hour rehearsals, and then perform.
"We have begun relating ourselves to an adult honor band," he said. "It really puts responsibility on the players to prepare for us to be successful. We are all busy people and we cannot commit to weekly rehearsals throughout the year."
MSSU Clarinet Professor Cheryl Cotter said she loves the opportunity create music with other band directors.
"This is something that isn’t duplicated many places," she said. "To play in it under Dr. Fuchs is really a great opportunity for camaraderie and art."
Sunday's concert will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Lee and Linda Scott Performance Hall and it is free and open to the public. The concert theme is "Music From Around the World."
Learn more about Pittsburg State's Department of Music at http://www.pittstate.edu/department/music/