Alumni gathering to perform at Miska’s last jazz concert
Conrad Miska wants his students to have a lifelong appreciation for music.
The longtime music teacher and jazz instructor at Eagan High School has shared his love for music for decades. He’s taught hundreds of students to play instruments from the trumpet to the flute to the drums.
Music is something to celebrate and for one night, he will.
The annual spring jazz concert 7 p.m. March 22 at Eagan High School will feature a one-night-only performance by more than 30 of Eagan High School alumni.
Graduates from 1998 to 2016 will come from as far away as Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Delaware, California and Quebec for his last high school jazz concert.
Miska is retiring in June.
Many of the attendees played music in college and some have gone on to become band directors.
“It’s basically my retirement party,” Miska said. “I’ve have not seen a lot of these people since graduation.”
He expects the experience to be as much of a social occasion as a musical one.
“When students travel great distances to come back and play, it’s says they have this lifelong appreciation,” Miska said. “They want to come back one more time and play with friends. It’s an honor.”
The fact that it’s a midweek concert also impresses the jazz instructor.
“These people are bending over backward,” Miska said. “It’s incredible. Even the ones who are just going to hop in the car and drive an hour or two, it’s midweek. That’s not easy. It’s a reunion. It’s nostalgic. It’s a love of music. It’s pretty darn rewarding.”
Miska has been a teacher for 38 years.
He started teaching in smaller school districts, but kept his eye on the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District before he was hired 24 years ago.
“It’s been a dream to teach here for as long as I have (been teaching),” Miska said.
The alumni band won’t be the only special guests coming to Eagan. Brad Shermock and Adam Rossmiller, both famed trumpet players who tour with Doc Severinsen Big Band will play with all three jazz bands.
“Both are local all stars,” Miska said.
Jazz II and III will also be performing March 22. They’re directed by Brett Benson and Doug Hart. Miska directs Jazz 1, which will both kick off the concert and close it out.
The concert is free to attend.
With more free time in the future, Miska plans to continue performing and watching others perform just like he has for several years.
He’s been a frequently judge for contests for concert bands, jazz bands and solo and ensemble contests. He’s been called to guest solo with jazz bands, give clinics and guest direct.
He’ll have more time for it now. He’s already been invited to judge a concert band festival in Colorado next year.
“You can’t do a lot of that when you’re teaching full time,” Miska said. “I envision doing more of that. I’ve played professionally with several groups, but school keeps me busy.”
He’s half of a duo called WindWood, where he pairs his flute with a guitarist playing classical and jazz.
He’s also a member of Shaun Johnson’s Big Band Experience and the Denny Malmberg Quartet. He’s sat in with The Acme Jazz Company, The Jerry O’Hagan Big Band, The Century College Big Band, Free & Easy and others through the years.
“I will undoubtedly stay connected to music education for a long time to come,” Miska said. “That which has been a central part of my life for 38 years won’t leave me just because I am no longer teaching full time.”
He also has a few vacations planned with his wife.
“It’s time to start giving my time back to her,” he said.