Dr. Brian Messier is Director of Bands at Dartmouth College, where he conducts the Wind Ensemble (DCWE), Marching Band, and Pep Band, and teaches courses in applied conducting, musical entrepreneurship, and musical leadership. The Dartmouth Youth Winds, a musical outreach ensemble pairing middle school music students from the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont with Dartmouth student mentors, and the annual Culley Concerto Competition are also organized and directed by Dr. Messier. Several exciting new projects have also been initiated by Messier since arriving at Dartmouth, including the 2020 Wind Ensemble Composition Competition, a College Band Director’s National Convention (CBDNA) Conference in the Fall of 2020, and a DCWE tour of Mexico in the Spring of 2021.
In addition to his work at Dartmouth, Messier is founder and Artistic and Managing Director of the 2016 American Prize winning Valley Winds (www.thevalleywinds.com) based in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. Under Messier’s direction, the Valley Winds has collaborated with renowned guest artists including Principal Oboist of the Minnesota Orchestra Basil Reeve, Grammy-nominated trumpeter Eric Berlin, pianist Nadine Shank, saxophonist Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, trombonist Greg Spriridopoulos, bassist Shigefumi Tomita, and clarinetist Romie de Guise-Langlois.
A champion for new music and living composers, Messier has commissioned many new works and composer residencies. In 2017, Messier orchestrated a residency with composer Frank Ticheli, bringing the composer to middle schools, high schools, and colleges throughout Western Massachusetts, culminating in a celebration of his music: A Ticheli Extravaganza. Dr. Messier has facilitated other residencies with composers Michael Markowski and Christopher Marshall, and future residencies at Dartmouth College will involve Omar Thomas and Enrico Chapela. Already having many world and regional premieres to his credit, including the 2019 premiere of Symphony No. 1, ‘Dartmouth’ by Oliver Caplan for the 250th Anniversary of Dartmouth College, Messier will premiere several new works by Mexican and American composers during the 2020-2021 academic year, building to the premiere of a new concerto for drum set and wind ensemble by prominent Mexican composer, Enrico Chapela.
Prior to his position at Dartmouth, Messier served as Artist in Residence and Director of the Wind Ensemble at Williams College. The Williams College Wind Ensemble was one of the premiere ensembles of Viet Cuong’s Renewal, a concerto grosso for percussion quartet highlighting renewable energy sources. Other collaborations included those with cellist Ronald Feldman, pianist Yoni Levyatov, and a composition learned by rote in collaboration with the Williams Zambezi Marimba Band. As Director of Bands at Belchertown High School, Messier’s ensembles consistently received highest ratings at state and national festivals, including being invited to perform at the Massachusetts All-State Music Conference and winning the American Prize for High School band. Earlier in his career, Messier served as Director of Bands at Amherst Regional High School in Amherst, Massachusetts, where his Wind Ensemble was also selected to perform at the Massachusetts All-State conference. While at Amherst he was awarded the Governor’s Citation of Recognition by then Governor and current Presidential candidate, Duval Patrick.
Having been lauded for his work with youth instrumental groups, Messier regularly performs clinics and conducts honor bands throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Minnesota. Messier specializes in integrating collaborative practices and innovative techniques into the large ensemble setting, composes and performs original works with honor bands, facilitates performances without a conductor, and consistently features music written by female and underrepresented composers.
Messier received his bachelor’s degree in music education from Ithaca College, his master’s degree in wind conducting from the University of Massachusetts, and his doctoral degree in conducting from the University of Minnesota. Messier’s doctoral research on audience attraction, engagement, and retention has resulted in his participation in the New Audiences and Innovative Practices program in Iceland; guest speaking engagements in Minnesota and the Netherlands; and his appointment to the CBDNA committee for the advancement of wind music in our culture. His pursuit of innovative and collaborative concert presentations led to the creation of Elastic Bands, an organization that provides methods and frameworks for alternative concert productions. Notable examples include a Murder Mystery Concert; a Flamenco Ballet production of Bizet’s Carmen; and ensemble sourced compositions, narrations, animations, and program notes.