Directors

 

Music Director Robert L. Albritton, Jr.

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Robert Albritton graduated from Tennessee State University in 1965 with a Bachelor in Music Education.  His first position was Band and Choral Director in  Lebanon, Tennessee followed by Band and Orchestra Director in Gary, Indiana.  In 1970 he enrolled in the Masters program at the University of Michigan, playing tuba in the Symphony Band under Dr. William Revelli.   He completed a Masters degree in the spring of ‘71 and toured Europe with the band that summer.  He then went on to complete one year in the U of M doctoral program. 

Albritton took a position with the Ann Arbor Public Schools in 1972 teaching beginning band and orchestra instruments at the elementary school level, followed by directing the bands at Slauson Junior High School.  His proven style and teaching methods led to the offer of Director of Bands at Pioneer High School in 1982.  He was Pioneer’s longest serving Director of Bands and Music Department Chair.  Under his tutelage, the bands participated annually in district festivals and consistently received the highest ratings.  Under his guidance, the Pioneer Music Department received its first Grammy award in 2001.

The Pioneer Symphony Band was chosen to perform at the 39th Annual International Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago (1985), as well as the 42nd Annual (1987) and 52nd Annual (1997) Midwestern Conference in School Vocal and Instrumental Music in Ann Arbor.  The Concert and Symphony Bands received top honors at music festivals in cities throughout the Eastern U.S. and Canada including Chicago, Boston, Toronto, and New York.  In the spring of 2001, the Symphony Band was honored with an invitation to visit China, performing well-received concerts in Beijing and Tianjin.

Albritton resides in Ann Arbor with his wife, Sarah.  As often as possible he enjoys time with his son, Robert, his daughter-in-law, Renee, and his 3-year-old grandson, Marcus, who live in Chicago.  He remains active in the music field by playing his instrument locally, leading clinics and judging music festivals.

 

Associate Directors

Grant Hoemke David Wolter Tammy Schoenfeldt
Grant Hoemke is a retired music educator, the former conductor of the Birmingham Concert Band and was, a few years ago, a student of Dr. Labuta. Dave Wolter was a music educator with the Saline Area Schools music program for many years. He is also the founder and director of the Saline Big Band Tammy Schoenfeldt is a music educator and the music director at the Saline First United Methodist Church
  Joe Labuta
 
  Our founder, Dr, Joseph Labuta now an associate director, a member of the trumpet section, and an Instructor for our "Green Horn Band"  

 

Founding Director Dr. Joseph Labuta

 

New Horizons Band Director Dr. Joseph Labuta Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Click here for photos and video of the presentation

Our founding director, Dr. Joseph Labuta, is one of the premier music educators in the United States and we were fortunate to have him as our teacher and leader. Recently, an extensive oral history of Dr. Labuta's career was published in the Journal of Historical Research in Music Education 29/2 (April 2008) You can read that history at Joseph A. Labuta and His Life in Music Education: An Oral History by Stephen E. Zdzinski. The conclusion reads in part:

"From humble beginnings, Joseph A Labuta was encouraged by his immigrant parents to study music, and he excelled. Later, as a young band director, he became interested in teaching musicianship to his students, and spent his professional life presenting and writing articles and books that put comprehensive musicianship into concrete terms. His book on accountability was a benchmark of its era. His dissertation work with Charles Leonhard and years of college conducting teaching led to the creation of his conducting text, which is now in its fifth edition and still widely used. Labuta's contributions to music education have extended well beyond his teaching at Wayne State University, and his influence upon the profession has been both significant and enduring."

 

And here are some of the fun photos that accompany the article. We will have to get him to reprise the puppet show in one of our future concerts!

 

Dr. Labuta steps down as Music Director - Robert Albritton named new Director

After founding the Saline New Horizons Band and serving as Music Director for the past 11 years, Dr. Joseph Labuta announced that he is stepping down from that role but will continue to play in the band, serve as an associate director, and become an instructor for the new "Green Horn Band". The Board announced that associate director Robert Albritton will be the new Music Director of the band.

Dr. Labuta said:

"It has been a terrific eleven-year ride as Music Director, Principal Conductor, and (hopefully) teacher of the Saline New Horizons Band. However, the time has come to pass the baton, both literally and figuratively, bring in new ideas and new energy, and move vigorously into the future. Since founding the Band in 2004, Mary and I have been dedicated to its leadership and will remain dedicated band members, Mary as a clarinetist and I as an Associate Conductor and trumpet player. We hope to help revitalize the Beginning/Intermediate Band program, thereby returning to the original New Horizons concept of providing older adults an opportunity to learn to play an instrument, or to relearn an instrument played years ago, or, for those who now play, to study a new instrument. All for the joy of making music together at everyone’s appropriate performance level.This “second retirement” frees Mary and me to travel, pursue musical and other interests, and relax some in my old age. Presently, I am working on the revised, 7th edition of my conducting textbook, Basic Conducting Techniques, for Routledge, my new publisher, recording and performing with the Brian Delaney Quartet (BDQ), playing “Jazz Chair” with the Saline Big Band, and preparing for cataract surgery. Retirement?
The Band Board, the Associate Conductors and I solidly support Mr. Albritton for Music Director. Band members respect him and respond well to his conducting, musicianship and personality. They too support him for this position. We all look forward enthusiastically to continued progress under his strong leadership."

Robert said:

"Obviously I follow a giant in the establishment and development of the New Horizons Band.  Joe Labuta has brought together people who are thrilled to reunite themselves with their earlier love of playing their instruments and those who want to try learning a new one. I believe we should continue the tradition that Dr Labuta has established.  I look forward to gathering more members from the community who share the values of the New Horizon Band organization.  I hope to learn from the participants their musical goals and work to achieve those goals with them.  One of our strongest attributes is the camaraderie we share.  This is an important element of our group and one that we should nurture."