Big Rapids High School Instrumental Music Department

Big Rapids High School

Welcome to BRHS, Home of the Cardinals...

...About the Big Rapids Instrumental Music Program

Located in Big Rapids, Michigan, the Big Rapids High School instrumental music program maintains two high school core education performing ensembles - the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and the Concert Band - of which there are 115 students enrolled.  From this membership, several other peripheral ensembles are formed: Marching Band (a volunteer group), Jazz Ensemble and the Chamber Winds consisting of various woodwind, brass, and percussion ensembles.  In addition, Big Rapids Middle School has three bands grouped by grade level (6, 7, and 8) enrolling approximately 200 students under the direction of Mrs. Penny Daab-Cushway.

The Big Rapids High School Marching Band is a volunteer group consisting of approximately 90 members.  See the Band Guide or Marching Band FAQ's for further information.

[Concert Band Info]

The Big Rapids High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble (SWE) is comprised of students in grades 9 through 12 whose membership is determined by audition.  Less than 1% of these students study instrumental music through individual private instruction.  The SWE has earned consistent first division ratings at Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association sponsored district and state festivals for over 30 years.

The Big Rapids High School Symphonic Wind Ensemble has been honored to perform at the Michigan Music Education In-Service Conference in Ann Arbor five times, in 1979, 1991, 1997, 2000, and 2004.

Facts about Big Rapids High School -
  • New high school built in 1998
  • Class B School District with a student population of  about 680
  • Grades 9-12
  • Auditorium seats 575
  • Athletic facilities include 2 softball fields, 2 baseball fields, 2 practice fields, 2 soccer fields, and 7 tennis courts.
....About the Director

Kent Boulton, Director of BandsKent Boulton, a 1977 graduate of Eastern Michigan University, is the director of bands at Big Rapids High School where he leads the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Chamber Winds, Marching Band, Jazz Ensemble and team teaches the Sixth Grade Beginning Band.  His commitment to providing individual and ensemble development opportunities for his students prompted him to create the highly acclaimed Chamber Winds program.  Participants in this innovative and challenging program have taken full advantage of this focused, individualized musical experience and have enjoyed considerable success including numerous individual and ensemble nominations to the Michigan Youth Arts Festival (MYAF). The Big Rapids High School Brass Quintet (‘00) and Big Rapids High School Woodwind Quintet (‘03) earned outstanding traditional ensemble nominations and subsequent selection to the MYAF where they performed as the most outstanding quintets.  In ‘02, ‘03, and ‘04 the Big Rapids High School Chamber Woodwind and Chamber Brass Ensembles each received nominations to the MYAF as outstanding large chamber ensembles with the woodwind group being selected as the most outstanding large chamber ensemble for two consecutive years.

Under Mr. Boulton’s direction, Big Rapids High School bands have performed at the prestigious Michigan Music Education In-Service Conference (formerly Midwestern Music Conference) in Ann Arbor in ‘91, ‘97, ‘00 and ‘04.  In conjunction with these appearances, he has commissioned several new works and arrangements for band including Vintage for Solo Euphonium and Symphonic Band, by Dr. David Gillingham.  His ensembles have earned over 90 first division ratings at district and state Michigan School Band and Orchestra sponsored festivals.

Mr. Boulton has been nominated twice at the district level as teacher of the year, and was selected in ‘02 as one of three finalists for Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association’s teacher of the year.  He has held various District One offices including Vice President for Solo and Ensemble Festivals and Vice President for Band and Orchestra Festivals, a responsibility he assumed for 7 years.  At the state level, he has served on the Festival Improvement Committee as well as being an active adjudicator for band and orchestra festivals.  In addition, he has served as host chair for numerous district and state band and orchestra festivals.

Mr. Boulton’s memberships include the Michigan Band and Orchestra Association, the American School Band Directors Association, the Music Educator’s National Conference, and the Michigan Music Educators Association.  Mr. Boulton has accepted invitations to guest conduct the West Central Concert Band and continually encourages students to pursue their musical careers though his own active involvement as a performer in the West Michigan area.

Mr. Boulton is completing his twenty-seventh year of teaching, the last nineteen as director of bands at Big Rapids High School.  He has been married to Vanessa for twenty-six years and has a son Thomas who graduated in April from Eastern Michigan University as a trumpet performance major.

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