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Festival of Winds Concert Planned February 28 At Oswego High School

OSWEGO, NY – The Festival of Winds Concert will be held on February 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Oswego High School Ralph M. Faust Theater.

The concert is free and open to the public.

Justin J. Mertz
Justin J. Mertz

The Festival of Winds Concert is an annual event that brings Oswego High School students in contact with the finest conductors, composers and educators from across the nation.

The festival dates back to the early 1980s, and has brought such musical giants as Pulitzer Prize winning composer Karel Husa, Francis McBeth, Jared Spears and Timothy Mahr; conductors Dr. Russell Mickelson (SUNY Fredonia/Ohio State University), Eugene Migliaro Corporon (University of North Texas), Rodney Winther (Ithaca College/Cincinnati Conservatory), James Croft (Florida State), James Keene (University of Illinois) and Larry Harper (Carroll College).

According to Oswego High School Director of Bands Scott Ciesla, students rehearse with the guest artists during the regular school day on the Friday prior to the event and then come in for an extra rehearsal on Saturday morning.

“It is a very busy weekend of music,” Ciesla said.

The OHS Band Parents’ Association, in conjunction with the Oswego City School District, provides a great deal of the funding for the guest conductors each year.

“We are very thankful for their continuous efforts on behalf of all the students in the OHS bands, Jazz Bands, Winter Guards and Marching Buccaneers,” said Ciesla.

This year’s guest is Justin J. Mertz, the assistant director of bands and director of the Syracuse University Marching Band at the Syracuse University Setnor School of Music.

He is also the assistant conductor of the Wind Ensemble and conductor of the Concert and Symphony Bands.

A native of Massapequa, NY, he has held teaching positions in the Alief Independent School District in Houston, Texas, and the Westmoreland Central School District in Westmoreland, New York.

At Westmoreland Middle School, he was named Faculty Member of the Year in 2004.

The Pride of Westmoreland Marching Band finished near the top of its class under his direction.

Additionally, Mertz writes competitive marching drill for high school bands in the Northeast and has been a guest conductor and clinician throughout New York State, including the Greater Utica Honors Youth Wind Ensemble, Greater Syracuse Honors Youth Wind Ensembles, Oxford Summer Band Camp, and NYSSMA Area all-state festivals.

He holds two degrees from Syracuse University.