Music to his ears

Sara Purvis

Joseph Christensen, director of bands at Iowa State, was recently presented the National Band Association Citation of Excellence.

This award was presented by the association president, Col. John Bourgeois, director of the United States Marine Band. Christensen said Bourgeois is one of the most respected band directors in the nation.

The National Band Association is the largest organization of band directors in the world.

The association presents the Citation of Excellence award to those who have demonstrated outstanding contributions to bands and professional leadership that inspires excellence in musical performance.

To receive this award, one must be nominated by colleagues. Christensen said he doesn’t know who nominated him and was surprised when he was notified that he was the recipient of this honor.

“I was completely thrilled. I wasn’t expecting it. I had no idea that I had even been nominated,” Christensen said.

Jeffrey Prater, a fellow professor of music at Iowa State, said, “I’m sure that they awarded it to the right person. … He without a doubt deserves the award beyond measure.”

Prater said Christensen has done much for the band department and continues to work hard.

Christensen oversees the Iowa State Band program, which has eight bands and a combined enrollment of over 600 students.

Christensen also directs the Iowa State Symphonic Band and the ISU Wind Ensemble while assisting the Marching and Pep Bands.

Under his direction, the ISU Wind Ensemble has performed twice in the last nine years at the North Central Division of the College Band Directors National Association Conference, the most prestigious invitation for a band.

The Ensemble also traveled to Mexico in 1987 and 1990 on tours sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

Christensen has been the recipient of many honors during his 25 years at Iowa State.

These honors include past president of the Iowa Music Educators Association, past president of the Iowa Bandmaster’s Association, past president of the Big Eight Band Directors Association, past vice president of the Ames International Orchestra Festival Association and past co-chairman of the Iowans Alliance for Arts Education.

Christensen said he feels that working with students is the most rewarding aspect of his job.

“I really feel that it would be impossible to find a group of students anywhere in the United States who are better than those that I work with at Iowa State,” Christensen said.