Ken Noreen and Concert Band mark 30 years

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ken Noreen directs the Concert Band during
a Nov. 18, 2013 practice at Shoreline Community College
Photo courtesy SCC

By Jim Hills

For Ken Noreen, music isn’t a job or even a calling. For Noreen, music is life itself.

“A note is just a note, until a musician breathes some of their life into it,” Noreen said. “The more life experience a musician has, the more they have to put into the music.”

Noreen has plenty of experience.

The Shoreline Concert Band will perform at 7:30pm, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 at Shorewood High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available at the door: General admission $8, seniors and faculty $6, SCC students with ID $4.

He started 50 years ago as a student teacher in the Shoreline School District. He became band director at Shorecrest High School, a position he held for 24 years before retiring from the school district, but not band life. Noreen took his baton across town to Shoreline Community College where he has been directing the Shoreline Concert Band for the past 20 years.

When you put in that much time, you’re bound to see some familiar faces go past now and again. At a recent Monday-night band practice, Noreen was coaxing what his ear wanted from current college students, former Shorecrest band members and even parents of former Shorecrest students.

One relatively recent addition to the band is John Hopperstad. The Q13 TV news reporter played for Noreen as a Shorecrest student. At a recent practice session, Hopperstad brought a Q13 videographer. The story is scheduled to air on Thanksgiving, Hopperstad said. The time slot hadn’t yet been determined, but Hopperstad there would likely be further airings.

“Being in band is like being in a family,” Noreen said. “We have a lot of family here.”

That doesn’t stop Noreen from being a task master to get the sound he’s looking for a practice. Frequently stopping in the middle of a score, he works respectfully but insistently with each section as necessary, sometimes breaking it down to individual notes. “It’s not the note, it’s the style,” Noreen implores, using voice inflection to demonstrate his goal.

A fan of University of Washington athletics, Noreen likens the band to a sports team that plays better when it works together. This practice comes one night after Noreen attended a UW basketball game. “The first half was all them,” Noreen says. “In the second half, the Huskies worked together. It was a completely different game.” The message is clear: Listen to the director and play as a team.

After 50 years of holding the baton, one might imagine the enthusiasm and drive would wane just a bit, but not for Noreen. An hour into practice, his focus remains laser-like and the patter is nonstop. “We’ve got to get this right by Dec. 3,” he says, referring to the next concert date.

The Shoreline Concert Band is a community band. Affiliated with the college, the 80-piece band was founded in 1984 to offer community members an opportunity to perform in a quality concert band alongside college students. The band performs concerts at the Shorecrest Performing Arts Center and provides music for the college’s annual Commencement Ceremony in June.


Darrol Haug,  December 6, 2013 at 11:30 AM  

I have known Ken Noreen since we were both in junior high school in Everett just a few years back. I was his college room mate in the 60's while he was studying music. Few have had the wonderful experience of hearing him practice the violin. What a treat. Congratulations "Jascha" (Heifetz)

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