Dr. Mark Lortz directs band; Local composer works with students

Ben Iampieri, Copy Editor

     On May 5, Dr. Mark Lortz came in and conducted a clinic with the North Harford band. Lortz composed a song that the students performed for their spring concert.

     “We played a piece at the spring concert called ‘Fuego Espanol,’ by Mark Lortz. He is a composer but also a college band director,” band teacher Mr. Wojciechowski says. “He teaches at Stevenson University outside of Baltimore. He grew up in Baltimore County and lives in Joppa now.”

     “We were able to have him come in before our concert and work with the band in a clinic kind of fashion,” Wojciechowski says.

     Junior Abby Saltzer has been in the NHHS band since she was a freshman. “It was a great opportunity to understand the meaning behind the song and understand his reasoning for writing it,” she says. “You don’t usually get to interact with the composers of songs.”

     Senior Travis Walker has been in the NHHS band since he was a freshman, too. “It was interesting having somebody who wrote the piece and knew the ins and outs of it,” he says. “You don’t normally get to do that.”

     Lortz not only helped teach the students parts of the music and understand the different components of it but also answered questions they had about why he wrote things a certain way or what the purpose of certain rhythms were. He taught them “about the style of the different Latin rhythmic elements that are in the piece,” Wojciechowski explains.

     “We were able to have a different conductor so it was interesting to see his style of conducting vs what Mr. Wojo usually does,” Salzter says. “He had a different insight to what we could improve on through our playing. His conducting style was a little different.”

     “He even pointed out errors in the printing that we wouldn’t have known of,” Walker explains. “It was cool, and it was neat that he lives just down the road in Joppa.”

     The band has not had a lot of access to modern composers, unlike the choir, which has had composers brought in before. “We have [had] other college professors and university band directors that have come to work with us, but this is the first time we have actually had a composer come, and so that’s the unique element about this one,” Wojciechowski says. “But the nice thing is that now with the more common use of Microsoft teams, we can look for more opportunities to bring in more composers even if it’s in a virtual clinic. As we look for programming in the future and more modern pieces of music, that is definitely going to be a consideration.”

     Wojciechowski explains how the flexibility of Teams meetings could allow the band to work with composers from thousands of miles away. “If we have those opportunities to work with composers, then I’m always gonna look and see if that’s a possibility,” Wojciechowski explains.