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The Heisey Wind Ensemble is led by world-class conductors.

Dr. Mikkelson

Since 1998 Russel C. Mikkelson has served as the sixth Director of University Bands at The Ohio State University. As professor of music and area head of Conducting and Ensembles, he conducts the Wind Symphony, leads the graduate wind conducting program and oversees all aspects of the university’s band program. Under his direction, the Wind Symphony has performed twice at the College Band Directors National Association Convention, the American Bandmasters Association Convention, the CBDNA North Central Conference, and nine times at the Ohio Music Educators Association Professional Development Conference. The Wind Symphony has recorded six CDs: Network (Naxos), Rest (Naxos), Southern Harmony (Naxos), Winds of Nagual (Naxos), Jubilare! (Mark Records) and Sounds, Shapes and Symbols (Mark Records). In a review of the Southern Harmony recording, Fanfare magazine proclaims, “The Ohio State musicians play their collective hearts out and conductor Mikkelson shapes the music with a loving hand, wringing every last drop of emotion out of the music. If this does not give you goose-bumps, nothing will.”

A relentless advocate for the creation of new works, Mikkelson chairs the Big Ten Conference’s Commissioning Project, serves on the American Bandmasters Association Commissioning Committee, and has instituted a program of regular commissioning projects for the Ohio State Bands. He has received praise from internationally recognized composers Leslie Bassett, Krzysztof Penderecki, John Corigliano, Michael Colgrass, Joseph Schwantner, Aaron Jay Kernis, Jennifer Higdon, Gunther Schuller, Lukas Foss, Augusta Read Thomas, Frank Ticheli, John Mackey, Steven Bryant and Michael Daugherty—among others—for his musical realization of their compositions. Corigliano wrote, “Russel Mikkelson is a conductor who really understands my music, and that’s rare.”

Dr. Mikkelson is past president of both the Big Ten Band Directors Association and the North Central Division of the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA), is a member of the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE), NAfME, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Phi Beta Mu, and is a duly elected member of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. Mikkelson is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Band Research, and has published articles in The Instrumentalist and The Journal of the Conductor’s Guild; as a composer and arranger, he is published through C. Alan and Daehn Publications.  An enthusiastic supporter of public school music education, Dr. Mikkelson has conducted All-State Bands, Festivals, and Honor Bands across the United States and internationally. He is the recipient of The Ohio State University School of Music Distinguished Teaching Award, the Distinguished Scholar Award, and was recently honored with the President’s Alumni Award by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, recognizing outstanding professional and personal achievement.

Dr. Mikkelson has served as Conductor and Music Director of The Heisey Wind Ensemble since 2002.

Music is a doer’s art and the Heisey Wind Ensemble is the embodiment of what music education can be. Our teachers planted musical seeds in each one of our HWE members; seeds that continue to blossom, even decades later. This manifests itself in human and musical connections between conductor, musician, audience, and community. That is the essence of the HWE.

Richard Blatti

Richard Blatti is the Conductor Laureate of the HWE. He served as Principal Conductor of the group from 1996-2002. It was under his direction that the ensemble made their first appearance at the Ohio Music Education Association State Conference.

Mr. Blatti previously served The Ohio State University as Head of the Ensembles and Conducting Area, Associate Professor of Conducting, and Associate Director of Bands. In addition to his duties as music director and conductor of the OSU Symphonic Band, he supervised all aspects of the conducting curricula and the administration of all university ensembles for the School of Music. Ensembles under his direction have recorded for the Naxos, Delos International, Boosey & Hawkes, and Mark Recording labels and have performed at national and regional levels for the College Band Directors National Association, the American Bandmasters Association and the Ohio Music Educators Association. For his interpretation of their works, Blatti has earned the praise of many composers, including Gunther Schuller, John Mackey, Steven Bryant, David Gillingham, Frank Ticheli, Daniel Bukvich, Roger Cichy, and Warren Benson. Professor Blatti has twice received The Ohio State University School of Music Distinguished Teaching Award, and in 2007, was one of only ten OSU Faculty honored with the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching.

As guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator, Blatti has been invited to 36 states, five Canadian provinces, and six other countries, including the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France, Belgium, Australia, and China. Prior to his appointment at OSU, Professor Blatti was Director of Instrumental Music at Albion College in Michigan. During his tenure there he was twice selected the outstanding Faculty Member of the Year, and was awarded two grants in support of his research on rehearsal techniques and conducting pedagogy. Blatti also served as Director of Bands and Music Department Chair at York Community High School in Elmhurst, Illinois.

A student of legendary conductor John Paynter, Blatti earned both the Bachelor of Music Education and the Master of Music degrees from Northwestern University and has done post-graduate work in conducting at Michigan State University. He is a member of the American Bandmasters Association, CBDNA, MENC, OMEA, Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Beta Mu, Omicron Delta Kappa, Tau Beta Sigma and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia; he also serves as a Director of the John P. Paynter Foundation. He is in constant demand as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and lecturer and is completing his work on a new conducting pedagogy handbook, Teaching Instrumental Conducting.

Our first conductors

Richard Lon Cass, Music Director 1985 – 1995

Lon Cass was a founding member of the Heisey Wind Ensemble and the first Conductor and Music Director of the group. Under his leadership, the HWE grew from the initial 25 members to over 40 members, the Denison residency established, and campus concerts moved from Burke Recital Hall to Swasey Chapel as audiences grew. Mr. Cass studied music at Capital University, The Ohio State University and Vandercook College of Music and studied conducting with Wilbur Crist, Peter Tkach and Dr. William Revelli. He is a member of the American School Band Directors Association (ASBDA). Mr. Cass retired from teaching instrumental and vocal music at Fisher Catholic High School in Lancaster.

Robert Neumann, Assistant Conductor 1985 – 2001

Robert Neumann was a founding member of the Heisey Wind Ensemble, member of the trumpet section, and served as the assistant conductor. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati College – Conservatory of Music and received his Master’s Degree from The Ohio State University. He retired from public school teaching in 1983, having taught in the Richmond Dale (Ross County), Washington Court House, Zanesville and Newark school systems. Mr. Neumann served as Solo/Ensemble/Band Adjudicator and marching band contests for OMEA for many years. He was influential in contributing to the popularity of marching band contests by originating one of the earliest contests at Zanesville High School (1963) and Newark High School (1974). Mr. Neumann was a member of A.S.B.D.A. and the Phi Beta Mu international Band Master’s Fraternity. Robert Neumann passed away in March 2016.