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New band director looks to make subtle changes

Photo by Nick Park ’15 | New band director Mr. Leo Werner conducts students during jazz band Sept. 15. Mr. Werner comes to Brophy after six years at Combs High School and 17 at Mountain Pointe.

By Henry Erlandson ’16

After 17 years of directing band at Mountain Pointe and six at Combs High School, Mr. Leo Werner is now the new band director and said he is excited to be working with the Brophy/Xavier band program.

Mr. Werner said he is expecting to see big things from his students this year as he looks forward to upcoming concerts and other events for his jazz band, wind ensemble, percussion ensemble and concert band.

“I think there is a lot of tremendous potential here for great music-making and there is a lot of great talented students … the level of dedication and discipline that this school can project is something that was very interesting to me,” Mr. Werner said.

Mr. Werner said he hopes to see the bands play at more festivals for the Arizona Music Educator’s Association and the Arizona Band and Orchestra Directors’ Association.

The wind ensemble will consider another trip to Disneyland for the annual competition where they look to win it two years in a row after taking first place in their division last year.

Mr. Werner’s approach to travel is to enter big competitions every other year.

“My practice at my other schools was to aim for an every other year schedule as to not overburden the students with the cost of that kind of travel year after year,” Mr. Werner said.

The jazz band will be active this year as well, and its members said it looks to continue its hard work and production under Mr. Werner.

“He takes the band program and treats it more like a class so there are assignments and things you need to do and it’s not just about playing the music,” said Carlos Solano ’15.

Although it may seem like there are to be many changes under a new band director, Mr. Werner stressed the fact that he does not want to make too many dramatic alterations in his first year because he knows how strong the students’ relationships are with each other.

He said he is primarily eager to assess all the different strengths and weaknesses of the program and hopes to improve day by day.

Mr. Werner, who specializes in percussion, is capable of playing any instrument and he is also Arizona’s first high school teacher to earn National Board Certification in the state, which he said is a notable milestone in his career.

“I feel like he brings a new direction to the band program … he has reorganized the band program so that it’s more efficient and works better,” said percussionist Will Olesiewicz ’16.