POWELL, Wyo. - Northwest College music professor Neil Hansen wore a path to the podium Monday night, Jan. 21, to accept honors and accolades from the Wyoming Music Educators Association at its State Music Conference in Gillette.
He was applauded for his years of service in the advancement of musical education and named Wyoming Music Educator of the Year and North Big Horn Basin District Music Educator of the Year. The Wyoming Jazz Educators also recognized Hansen with its very first Jazz Educator of the Year award.
The honors crown a 40-year career in music education. Thirty-seven of those years were in Wyoming, 31 at Northwest College. For the past several years, he’s served as director of bands at NWC and chair of the college’s Visual and Performing Arts Division. Hansen will retire in June.
His list of contributions to the musical arts in Wyoming and beyond reads as long as a book. A few of the highlights include his work as a board member on the Wyoming Arts Council and organizer of the Northwest Jazz Festival, which brings well-known jazz performers and hundreds of high school and college students to Powell each spring.
He also founded and directs the annual NWC Brass Festival and the Yellowstone Summer Music Camp and Jazz Camps. Each year he administers a solo and ensemble festival for northern Wyoming middle school students.
In addition to founding the Wyoming Jazz Educators, Hansen has served on boards for the National Association of Schools of Music, the International Association of Jazz Educators (now Jazz Education Network), Music Educators National Conference (now National Association for Music Education) and several other organizations. The National Association for Music Education is the largest arts advocacy organization in the world.
In demand as a clinician and adjudicator across the Rockies, Hansen has judged music festivals in a dozen states and conducted all-state jazz bands in Colorado and Montana. He has also served as a band clinician conducting honor bands throughout Wyoming and Montana.
Hansen is a founding member of the Yellowstone Jazz Festival and received the 2007 Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award.