The wind ensemble and the saxophone choir from the Murray State University Department of Music have been selected to perform at the 2021 Kentucky Music Educators Association (KMEA) Professional Development Conference, to be held virtually through Saturday.

Caldwell County High School graduate Abby Ward, a trumpet player, is among the saxophone choir to perform. A 2017 CCHS graduate, Ward is the daughter of Heather Ward of Princeton and the late Hugh Ward.

Ward has been playing trumpet since 2009 and was named one of the top high school musicians in the country, performing in the 2016 All-National Honor Ensembles in Grapevine, Texas.

Ward was a part of the National trumpet competition for all four of her collegiate years. She was the principal trumpet in the wind ensemble, was in the MSU jazz orchestra and served as the drum major of the Racer Band for three years.

The MSU ensembles submitted recordings from previous live performances and were chosen by a KMEA committee through a blind selection process. The ensembles competed against other collegiate ensembles from around the state.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference is being presented virtually. Instead of performing live at the conference held in Louisville, the ensembles recorded their performances to be shown during the conference.

The saxophone choir is comprised of 10 players, including Ward. Their performance will take place at 6:50 p.m. today (Wednesday). The performance can be seen at

Performance selections include Fanfare from La Peri by Paul Dukas, Preludio from Bachiana Brasileiras No. 4 by Heitor Villa-Lobos, arranged by adjunct saxophone instructor Robert Eason, “Moderato,” quasi marcia from Serenade, opus 44 by Antonin Dvorak, Overture, Interlude and Scherzo by Walter S. Hartley, “Salvation is Created” by Pavel Tschesnokoff and Allegretto from “The Golden Age” opus 22 by Dimitri Shostakovich.

The saxophone choir is conducted by professor Scott Erickson, who teaches oboe, bassoon, saxophone, woodwind methods and woodwind chamber ensembles. Erickson is in his 36th year at Murray State and will be retiring at the end of the spring 2021 semester.

“I’m incredibly proud of the saxophone choir and their preparation for KMEA,” said Erickson. “We’ve had many rehearsals where we were missing members of the group due to students quarantining or testing positive, but they have persevered and are prepared to record a great program. All of them are juniors or younger, so the future of saxophone playing here is bright. Being selected to play at the conference is a special way to end my teaching career at Murray State.”

The wind ensemble is comprised of 56 players of woodwind, brass, percussion, string bass and piano. Their performance took place Tuesday.

Performance selections include “Havana” by Kevin Day, “Reflections in a Tidal Pool” by James Bonney, “Hymn to the Sun with the Beat of Mother Earth” by Satoshi Yagisawa, Movements III and IV from Brooklyn Bridge by Michael Daugherty and “Barnum and Tesla” from Steampunk Suite by Erika Svanoe.

The wind ensemble also featured guest artist Amy McCann, assistant professor of clarinet at Murray State. The wind ensemble is conducted by Trae Blanco, director of bands and assistant professor of music.

Additional information about the conference and registration can be found on the KMEA website at