International Women’s Brass Conference coming to NKU

The eighth International Women’s Brass Conference will be coming to NKU this June. With only a few months until the five-day conference, which will be held June 4-8, this year’s host Dr. Raquel Rodriguez has been working fervently in preparation.

“It was quite an honor to get the hosting duties,” said Rodriguez, assistant professor of trumpet at NKU, who received the approval to host after submitting an application in November 2012.

According to Rodriguez, NKU’s close proximity to Cincinnati and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport was a strong factor in her application’s acceptance. The most recent conference hosts were in Kalamazoo, Mich. and Toronto.

Though not everything is finalized in terms of registration, participants from the United States, Canada, and Mexico as well as Japan and parts of Europe, are anticipated to appear at this year’s conference.

In addition to a variety of countries, there will also be a variety of instruments being performed. These include trumpet, french horn, euphonium, and tuba. Rodriguez is a particular fan of the versatility that brass instruments can bring to performers.

“We can be very dramatic and emotional, but also very heroic,” Rodriguez said.

The conference, which was founded by Susan Slaughter in 1990 and is open to both men and women, will have a variety of events occurring. Evening concerts for the public will happen from Wednesday to Saturday of that week. There will be a solo competition for money, and all-female brass groups will perform. One of those groups, the Monarch Brass Ensemble, made a particular impression on Rodriguez when she first saw them perform.

“It was the first time I saw an ensemble comprised of women that really just nailed it,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez has some experience with curating music events. This past April, she hosted a meeting of the Ohio Chapter of the International Trumpet Guild. The one-day event was attended by nearly 200 people. Rodriguez is grateful for that experience as a means of preparing her for the more daunting task of coordinating the IWBC this June.

“I’m glad I had that experience, because this one will be double that size, if not triple,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez is not alone in this endeavor. Karen Koner, assistant professor of music education has been doing self-described “grunt work” for Rodriguez as a means of getting everything together. This includes making schedules and coordinating rooms for the different events. With an anticipated attendance of approximately 500 people, the Fine Arts building will not be adequate as the only space.

Before coming to NKU in fall 2012, Koner had experience with this sort of event. While working at the University of Arizona, she organized the Arizona Music Educators Association Solo & Ensemble Festival for four years. That event, along with a summer music camp in Maryland she administered, was comprised of about 300 students each.

“I’m kind of used to doing this big-scale stuff,” Koner said.

As June approaches, Rodriguez says the pressure of balancing her efforts towards becoming tenured, her own performing, and working on the conference has been a whole lot of responsibility to handle at once.

“I’m going to need a good vacation after this,” Rodriguez said.