UW-Eau Claire's jazz studies director recently had the invitation of a lifetime from the nation's leading music education organization.
Robert Baca, professor of music, was selected to serve as the conductor of the National Association for Music Education 2014 All-National Honor Jazz Band. Baca led the band's performance on the world-famous Grand Ole Opry House stage during the gala concert that concluded the NAfME National In-Service Conference in October in Nashville, Tenn.
Baca was one of "four of the most prominent conductors in the United States" chosen to lead the all-national honor ensembles at the national celebration of music education and the arts, said a NAfME press release.
Baca, who leads UW-Eau Claire's Jazz Ensembles I and II, also teaches applied trumpet, jazz improvisation and jazz history at UW-Eau Claire and coordinates the annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival, one of the nation's largest. He has toured with Frank Sinatra, Buddy Rich, Tony Bennett and Mel Tormé, and he has performed as a soloist in China, London, Costa Rica and Europe.
Baca's fellow conductors at the NAfME conference included Mark Camphouse, a previous regional finalist in the prestigious White House Fellowship Competition and current professor of music and wind symphony conductor at George Mason University; Gerard Schwarz, music director of the All-Star Orchestra and the Eastern Music Festival, conductor laureate of the Seattle Symphony, and recipient of Emmy awards, Grammy nominations, ASCAP awards and the Ditson Conductor's Award; and Edith Copley, conductor of the highly acclaimed Shrine of the Ages Choir and current Regents' Professor and director of choral studies at Northern Arizona University.