Gustavus Honor Band Festival

November 6 and 7, 2022

Welcome back to a new and exciting school year! At Gustavus Adolphus College we anticipate a return to our traditional two-day Gustavus High School Honor Band in November, the featured fall festival of the Bjorling Music Festivals.

This year’s festival will take place from Sunday, November 6, to Monday, November 7 and will feature special guest conductor Kelly Watkins. Students will also work with Dr. Heidi Johanna Miller, Dr. Karrin Meffert-Nelson, and myself throughout the festival.

Selected high school participants will be treated to concert performances by the Gustavus Wind Orchestra and Gustavus Wind Symphony, master classes with Gustavus faculty, and rehearsals and performances in beautiful Christ Chapel.

Directors and teachers must nominate 9th to 12th grade students for the festival using this form: The fee for the festival is $35.00 per application and the nomination deadline is Friday, September 30.

Whether you have participated in the Gustavus High School Honor Band for decades or this is your first time, I sincerely look forward to collaborating with you and your students! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Kelly Watkins

Kelly Watkins

Conductor, educator, and trumpet player Kelly Watkins hails from the great state of Texas. A member of the United States Coast Guard Band since 2003, she has appeared as a featured soloist on national concert tours and traveled extensively across the U.S. and abroad to Taiwan and Japan. Kelly also serves on the faculty of Eastern Connecticut State University where she directs the Eastern Concert Band and has taught conducting, Brass Ensemble, and Wind Ensemble. Guest conducting engagements include ensembles at Gustavus Adolphus College (MN), Appalachian State University (NC), the University of Delaware, and several United States Coast Guard Band and Chamber Players performances, as well as regional and district honor ensembles in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

From 2013-2016 she served as the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps Symphonic Band in New York City. In this post she led an ensemble of 100+ musicians of varying musical abilities in concerts and outreach initiatives across Manhattan, including collaborations with Randy Graff (Les Miserables), Liz Callaway (Broadway, Tony nominee) and Carol Jantsch (Philadelphia Orchestra).

Kelly holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern State University of Louisiana and a Master of Music degree from Illinois State University, with additional studies in Arts Administration at Boston University. She has served as President and Executive Director of the International Women’s Brass Conference, and currently serves on the Board of Directors.

James Patrick Miller

Dr. James Patrick Miller

James Patrick Miller is the Douglas Nimmo Professor of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. In wide demand as a guest conductor, Miller has appeared throughout the United States with professional, festival, and public school ensembles, engaging with more than 65,000 high school students since 2009. A strong advocate for composers, Dr. Miller has been involved in the commissioning of more than 30 works for a wide variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles.

Performances under his leadership have been noted by such composers as Shawn Brogan Allison, Katherine Bergman, David Maslanka, Stephen Paulus, Joel Puckett, James Stephenson, Judith Weir, Dana Wilson, and Pulitzer Prize winning composers Karel Husa, Gunther Schuller, and Steven Stucky. Originally from Winona, MN, Dr. Miller holds the DMA in conducting from the University of Minnesota where he was named a College of Liberal Arts and School of Music Graduate Research Fellow, the MM degree in conducting from Ithaca College, and a BM in music education magna cum laude from St. Olaf College.

Heidi Johanna Miller

Dr. Heidi Johanna Miller

Originally from Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, Dr. Heidi Johanna Miller joined the faculty at Gustavus Adolphus College in 2014, where she conducts the Gustavus Wind Symphony and teaches courses in music education. She joined the Gustavus faculty after five years spent in Massachusetts, where she served as Artist-in-Residence in Winds and Director of the Williams College Wind Ensemble in Williamstown, MA.

Her varied career also includes appointments with the University of Massachusetts, the Pioneer Valley (MA) Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and Spring Lake Park High School (MN). In addition, she co-founded the Minneapolis-St. Paul based Sapphire Chamber Consort and co-conducted the Amherst Community Band for three seasons and the Encore Wind Ensemble for one season. Miller has also performed extensively with vocal ensembles in Minnesota and New England and loves the intersectionality of vocal and instrumental music of all types.

Karrin Meffert-Nelson

Dr. Karrin Meffert-Nelson

Karrin Meffert-Nelson, DMA, teaches clarinet, conducts the Gustavus Chamber Winds, and teaches courses in Music Education and Music History. Dr. Meffert-Nelson maintains an active performing career as Principal Clarinetist with the Minnesota Opera Orchestra and through freelance work with Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Northrop Ballet Orchestra, and with productions at the State and Orpheum Theaters. She has also performed with the St. Louis Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, and the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota.

As a clinician, Meffert-Nelson frequently appears as an adjudicator for area solo and ensemble contests and works with the woodwind sections of the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies. In addition to her DMA degree in Clarinet Performance from the University of Minnesota, Dr. Meffert-Nelson holds the MM degree in Clarinet Performance from Northwestern University in Evantston, IL and the BM degree in Clarinet Performance and Music Education from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Prior to her appointment at Gustavus Adolphus College, Meffert-Nelson taught clarinet and chamber music at the University of Minnesota.