Prairie Wind Ensemble Presents December Concert

The Prairie Wind Ensemble, in residence at Illinois Central College, will present the second concert of its 38th season on Friday, December 11, at 7:30 p.m., in the ICC Performing Arts Center, located on the East Peoria Campus. The ensemble will be under the direction of David Maccabee and Laurel Kay Filzen Etzel for this concert and will also feature a new composition written and conducted by Brian Spicklemire.

Music for the evening will include a wide range of musical selections that include something for everyone. Mr. Maccabee will present La Forza del Destino by Verdi, Riften Wed composed by Julie Giroux, Arthur Sullivan’s Pineapple Poll and Sousa’s Bullets and Bayonets. The second half of the concert will open with Brian Spicklemire conducting his new composition, and all the lights that guide the way are blinding (sic). Laurel Filzen Etzel will then take the podium to finish the concert with Polar Express arranged by Jerry Brubaker, Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque, the familiar March of the Belgian Paratroopers arranged by Charles Wiley and conclude with Alfred Reed’s Russian Christmas Music.

David Maccabee has been director of bands at United Township High School, in East Moline since 1986. He previously taught in the Geneseo and Nokomis school systems. During Maccabee’s tenure, enrollment in the UTHS band program has grown from 100 to nearly 200 members.

In 1982, Maccabee received his bachelor’s degree in music education from Augustana College. He received his master’s degree in music education from VanderCook College of Music Education in 1989.

Under Maccabee’s direction, the UTHS band program has achieved a national reputation for excellence that has earned them numerous honors and awards. The band has received superior ratings in every festival in which it has participated for the past 27 years. In 2015, the United Township High School Symphonic Band was named honor band at the University of Illinois Super-State Band Festival.

Laurel Kay Filzen Etzel is active as a freelance performer and conductor throughout Central and Western Illinois. She is the assistant director and plays third horn for the Peoria Municipal Band. She also performs third horn with the Knox Galesburg Symphony and is the hornist with the River Valley Brass Quintet. Filzen Etzel has been the alto section leader for the Cathedral Schola at The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception since May 2008, where she is also active as an instrumentalist.

Filzen Etzel is an adjunct faculty member at Illinois Central College, where she teaches a music appreciation course, as well as applied horn. From September 2007 until May 2014, she was the director of the Knox Sandburg Community Concert Band at Knox College at which time the ensemble was restructured as the Galesburg Regional Concert Band. She directed this new ensemble until November 2014.

She earned her master of music degree in horn performance from Western Michigan University in April 2006, followed by an additional year of study at WMU as a candidate for a master of music in conducting. She was awarded a graduate teaching assistantship for both degree programs. Filzen Etzel earned her bachelor of arts degree from Western Illinois University in music performance in May 2004.

Brian Spicklemire is a composer and percussionist whose music is an eclectic mix, ranging from a lush post-tonal romanticism, to minimalism, to jazz and many styles in-between. He draws inspiration from both classical and pop music, as well as influences from art, architecture, sports, and pop-culture.

Originally from Terre Haute, Ind., Spicklemire graduated from Bradley University in 2009 with a bachelor of science in music business and bachelor of music in composition, where he studied composition with Dr. Stephen Heinemann. He completed his master of music in composition at Butler University, where he studied with Dr. Michael Schelle. He currently works as the inventory lead/accessories buyer for Kidder Music. In addition to the playing with Prairie Wind Ensemble, he is an active drum set player and private teacher in the Peoria area. He is the front-ensemble instructor for Morton High School, and works with the Franklin Central, Ind,. indoor drumline in the winter.

The Prairie Wind Ensemble has a rich history owed to its founder, Conductor Emeritus Dr. Donald Lewellen, who created the ensemble in 1977. Dr. Lewellen led the ensemble until his retirement in 2003. Mr. Robert Sheldon served as conductor of the Prairie Wind Ensemble until his departure in 2010 due to job responsibilities as conductor, composer, clinician and concert band editor for the Alfred Publishing Company. The ensemble will be selecting a new director to begin the second half of the season.

The ensemble membership represents many professional backgrounds. Approximately 70 percent of members are current or retired professional music educators. The remaining 30 percent represent a diverse set of occupations including recording technician, nurse, educator, anesthesiologist, information technologist, electronics technician, engineer, attorney, homemaker, electrician, retail manager and project manager. Members are from Knoxville, Canton, Macomb, Bloomington, Normal, Peoria Heights, Washington, North Pekin, Marquette Heights, Avon, Morton, Cuba, Galesburg, Chillicothe, Dunlap, Glasford, Mapleton, Bartonville, Metamora, Germantown Hills, Marseilles, Farmington, Elmwood as well as Peoria, East Peoria and Morton.

Tickets for the concert cost $8 for the general public and $6 for students and seniors. Children under 12 are free. Tickets may be purchased in advance online at or in person or by phone through the ICC Performing Arts Center box office at (309) 694-5136. Group rates are available; contact the box office for more information. There is limited a limited availability of tickets available for purchase at the door on the day of the performance.

For more information about the Prairie Wind Ensemble, visit