Forward Performing Arts to Present at Wisconsin State Music Conference

On Thursday, October 26, Madison Scouts Alumnus and Wisconsin band director (St. Croix Central HS) Sean Conway, and Adam Bassak, Baldwin-Woodville HS Band Director, will present “Reimagining the Marching Arts.” The presentation will be from 11:30a.m. to 12:45p.m. in Room G at the Monona Terrace. In this session, Sean and Adam will discuss existing and emerging opportunities for music education via the 'marching arts'.

Sean Conway is Director of Bands at St. Croix Central High School in Hammond, WI, where he has been teaching since 2017. Previously, he performed (2009-12) and worked (2013-18) for the Madison Scouts as a member of the brass education team. Sean also spent two years as an assistant director at Waukesha North High School and Butler Middle School in Waukesha, WI.

Sean has extensive experience in a variety of marching arts settings. He graduated from Rosemount High School, 15-time Minnesota State Marching Band Champion. Afterward, he participated in UW-Eau Claire’s Blugold Marching Band, a non-competitive band that boasts over 450 members. Sean taught both the River Falls H.S. (student teacher and staff member) and Waukesha North H.S. marching bands, programs that have a long tradition of success in WSMA competition.

When Conway arrived at St. Croix Central H.S., the program’s marching band component of the curriculum was minimal. Given his belief in the value of marching band as a part of a well-rounded music education, Sean made the jump to engage his students in the activity. From the get-go, his intention was not to engage the band in competition, but rather to provide another path to music-making and engagement.

"We're excited to share the wide variety of performance opportunities available to directors and their students in the marching activity. We hope attendees leave with creative and unique ideas of ways they can re-imagine how they utilize the marching arts in their band curriculum," said Conway.

Adam Bassak is a native of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree and a certificate in Fine Arts Administration from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. He also has continued his education at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and received his Masters in Educational Leadership through Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Mr. Bassak is an active clinician for both band and show choir throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota and a member of the WSMA State Marching Band Committee. His professional affiliations include the Wisconsin Music Educators Association, National Association for Music Education and the National Band Association.

Mr. Bassak conducts the Symphonic Band, Marching Band, Pep Band, Winter Winds, Winter Drumline, and chamber groups at Baldwin-Woodville High School. His ensembles consistently receive top ratings. The Marching Band has finished in the top three bands at state each year, including eight state championships. The Winter Drumline competes in the Minnesota Percussion Association Circuit, and is a two-time Scholastic Regional A Champion, as well as a three-time WGI Percussion World Championship participant.

In partnership with Forward Performing Arts and the Madison Scouts Mr. Bassak helped create and direct the first WGI Winds group in Wisconsin. The group was an MPA Independent A Champion, and finished fourth at WGI Wind World Championships. Prior to teaching at Baldwin-Woodville Mr. Bassak held a similar position at the Royall School District in Elroy, Wisconsin. Mr. Bassak enjoys writing and designing for other marching programs, golfing, watching Green Bay Packer and Wisconsin Badger games, and checking out the local music scene.

“My hope is that we help attendees realize the wide variety of options available in the marching arts for directors, students, staff, and administration alike. The activity can be anything you want it to be, and will benefit your students in the end," said Bassak.

“Given Sean and Adam's deep involvement in the marching arts in Wisconsin, they are uniquely qualified to bring awareness to the opportunities that exist in this music education lane. We believe that students can find meaningful personal and performance growth through the marching arts; whether competitive or not.” said David Lofy, Forward Performing Arts Programs Director. David is a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (music education) graduate and also the Assistant Director of Athletic Bands at UWEC. David called upon his own experiences when considering how to best utilize the stage provided by WSMA; an opportunity Forward Performing Arts receives annually as part of a partnership between both organizations. 

The 2023 Wisconsin State Music Conference is being held Wednesday, October 25 through Saturday, October 28, 2023 at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center at One John Nolen Drive, Madison, Wisconsin.