Four former Duluth Band presidents attend Luther College

Four former band presidents of the Duluth East High School music program gather in front of the Luther Bell for a photograph, chuckling about their high school memories. While Luther senior Karl Badger, junior Jackson Churchill, sophomore Nathan Anderson and first-year Frost Bowen-Bailey have each chosen different career paths, their music and academic leadership across campus has benefited both their Duluth East and Luther communities. It looks like a tradition in the making.

Contemplating his high school musical experiences, Churchill said, "The Duluth East band program gave me an opportunity to fully engage in my high school community. There was always a band presence at games, assemblies and variety shows, and I learned that making music could simultaneously be a service to others and a self-fulfilling endeavor."

The Duluth band program also brought together an unlikely cohort of students through a common goal of musical excellence. "My high school band experience intersected with my commitments as a student and athlete. Many of my band friends were also my teammates on the field and colleagues in the classroom. Even if I was not best pals with these students, band taught me how to work together toward a common goal with a variety of personalities and interpersonal strengths. Moreover, we kept the quality of our craft in sight at all times, something that strengthened the collaborative bond between us," Churchill said.

As a French hornist, Bowen-Bailey's path to Luther was influenced by his three predecessors at Duluth East High School. He said, "I first looked at the school because of Jackson Churchill. I knew we had very similar interests and thought that it would be worth looking into based on his decision. I eventually chose Luther because I wanted to go to a school with a strong music program, but also have the option to look into other fields of study."

Both Bowen-Bailey and Anderson credit their high school music experience with preparing them for life at Luther. Bowen-Bailey said, "The Duluth East Band Program equipped me for success in future musical endeavors, as well as giving me a love for music and performing with others."

After a rich musical experience playing saxophone in high school, Anderson said, "I came to Luther because it felt like home and it felt like a community I could vibe with." 

The band presidents valued a sense of community in their high school music experience and have found their own communities at Luther in their respective majors.

As a former saxophonist and political science major, Badger said, "I've made close friends here at Luther and have also found faculty mentors. These people have all encouraged me to be a better version of myself, and have been a crucial part of my formative years."

Bowen-Bailey's first-year experiences changed his mind about his education path. He said: "I came to Luther thinking about being a band teacher, but not completely sure about it, so I really valued the first year education practicum. I have since decided I do not want to continue with education, and I am exploring options including a music and accounting double major. I am very much enjoying my music ensembles, Norsemen, Chamber Orchestra and Concert Band."

Anderson has also immersed himself in Luther's music community. "I have made amazing connections with so many great people and have learned so much about music and myself," he said.

Churchill describes how a Luther education has allowed him to pursue several of his passions. "I saw Luther as a great fit for me to continue my active involvement as a well-rounded student. I decided to major in music education to continue my experiences creating and sharing a high level of music with others. I also ran on Luther's cross country and track teams during my first two years at Luther to continue my improvement as a well-rounded student," Churchill said.

Touring with Luther ensembles regionally and internationally as a trombonist, Churchill said, "Luther's community extends far beyond our campus. I know that the bonds created with my ensemble mates will remain with me throughout my life."

Luther is home to one of the largest collegiate music programs in the nation, with five choirs, three orchestras, three bands, two jazz bands and nearly 800 student musicians. Luther students participate in large ensembles, faculty-coached chamber groups, private lessons and master classes. More than 275 music majors study music theory, ear training, history, education, composition, jazz, church music and performance.

From left: Nate Anderson, Karl Badger, Frost Bowen-Bailey, and Jackson Churchill