The following HMA band & choir cadets participated in the 42nd annual Military School Band & Choir Festival (MSBCF) held at Missouri Military Academy February 23-25th, 2018:

Braden Barton Freshman Clarinet Howe, IN
Joseph Gomez Fresman Choir – Tenor South Bend, IN
Kade Hochstetler Junior Choir – Bass Montgomery, IN
Alexis Klimaszewski Senior Choir – Soprano Franklin, IN
Aaron Liu Junior Tenor Saxaphone Fishers, IN
Liza Vernon Sophomore Choir – Soprano Yorktown, IN
Zina Vernon Freshman Percussion Yorktown, IN
Catherine Zhu Senior Choir – Alto Chesterton, IN


The event consisted of military school band and choir members and drum majors from the following schools:

Howe Military Academy in Howe, IN
Fork Union Military Academy in Fork Union, VA
Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, VA
Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, TX
Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, MO (host school)
New Mexico Military Academy in Roswell, NM
Randolph-Macon Academy in Front Royal, VA
Saint John’s Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield, WI
United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT

After arriving at the hotel Thursday evening the students relaxed and socialized with cadets from other schools.

Friday morning the cadets arrived at Missouri Military Academy (MMA) for the first time.  The choir, led by LTC Steve Thorpe, Choirmaster at New Mexico Military Institute and Piano Accompanist Michael DeMato, Chorus Director and Assistant Bandmaster at Randolph Macon Academy, immediately went to rehearsal at the chapel.

The band, led by Freddie Lomas, 25 year band service veteran of the Royal Marines Band UK and currently Director of Music at MMA, Rob McGrath, Choir and Jazz Band Director at MMA also retired from the Royal Marines Band UK, and CPT William G. Lamb, Jr. Regimental Bandmaster at New Mexico Military Institute, prepared for auditions for seating within the sections of the band.

All band and choir members and drum majors selected to participate in MSBCF were high school and college students at the participating schools.

Friday & Saturday were spent in rehearsals for the Sunday afternoon performance 1918, a tribute to “those who gave their lives during the Great War, World War I.”  The band and choir performance was streamed live, and several HMA family and staff members were able to view the performance over the internet.  Parents of Cadets Hochstetler and Klimaszewski traveled from Indianapolis to Missouri to view the concert in person.

Outstanding effort awards were presented to the high school and college that were best prepared for the festival, and individual awards were presented to Outstanding Festival Band Musician, Outstanding Festival Choir Musician and Outstanding Festival Drum Major.  Each individual received a gold medal.

In recognition of outstanding effort in preparation for chair placement auditions, first chair musicians in the band and choir received a silver MSBCF medal.  Cadet Aaron Liu was selected second chair tenor sax, Cadet Alexis Klimaszewski was selected 2nd chair choir soprano, and Cadet Catherine Zhu was selected 1st chair choir alto and received a silver medal.

This year’s festival roster included more than 150 cadets, directors and chaperones from 9 military schools and academies.  The mission of the Military School Band Association is to preserve the heritage of the military school band and promote the performance of military band music.  The Military School Band & Choir Festival is a three-day clinic for the top musicians from military secondary schools and colleges from across the nation.  Each festival is structured to include a festival concert band conducted by a current or former military conductor, a drum major clinic instructed by an active duty military drum major (this year’s drum major clinician, Senior Chief Musician Mike Bayes is the Drum Major for the United States Navy Band in Washington, D.C.), and a festival choir conducted by a noted military choral conductor.

This was the first time in over ten years that Howe Military Academy participated in this event, and it is hoped that this is the start of sending outstanding cadet musicians to participate on a yearly basis.

The 43rd annual Military School Band & Choir Festival will occur February 22-24, 2019 at New Mexico Military Institute.

MSBCF Band Rehearsal

Outstanding Alto Award - Catherine Zhu