Dr. James R. Saker
Director of Bands
Strauss PAC 209
phone: (402) 554-3446
Dr. James R. Saker is Professor and Director of Bands at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He also served as Chair of the Department of Music from 1992 through 1999 and from 2001 through 2006. A graduate of Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education, he served as a high school band director for 9 years in the Hillsdale and Champion Ohio public schools. He completed a Master of Music Degree at Youngstown State University in Music Education and earned a Ph.D. in Music Education at the University of Iowa. His principal conducting teachers have been Mark Kelly, Robert Fleming, and Frank Piersol.
Under his leadership, the University of Nebraska at Omaha Bands have received national and international acclaim. The Symphonic Wind Ensemble, which he founded in 1978, has performed for numerous professional conferences including the International Conference of the Association of Concert Bands, twice for the regional conference of The College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) and for over thirty state and regional music educator and bandmaster association conferences. This ensemble has completed six international tours including a performance at the 60th Anniversary commemoration of the D-Day in Normandy held in 2004, for the Lithuania “International Music Festival” in 2000 and 2006, and for the “International Liberation Festival” in Pilzen Czech Republic in 2008. This group also has performed in Austria, Belgium, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Dr. Saker has served the profession as president of Nebraska State Bandmasters Association (NSBA) and currently serves as president of the “Past Presidents Council.” He also served as president of the Ohio Music Educators Association District V. He was College/University Affairs Chair and was the first university professor in Nebraska to be elected president of the Nebraska Music Educators Association (NMEA) serving in that rotation from 1985-91 He has presented sessions at numerous state, regional national and international Music Educators, Wind Orchestra, and Bandmasters Association Conferences, and at the regional and national Professional Conferences of CBDNA. He is the Nebraska State Chair for CBDNA and has served as coordinator and host of the 1994 and 2008 North Central Division Professional Conferences. Dr. Saker has been a guest conductor with high school, collegiate, honors, all-state and professional bands and orchestras throughout the United States and in Canada, Europe and Eastern Europe.
He has received the University's Great Teacher Award, a Nebraska Board of Regents Commendation, and the "Chancellor's Medal," the highest honor presented to a member of the University Community. International Studies and Programs division honored him with the "Andy" award 'in recognition of his numerous contributions to enhance the international awareness of the citizens of Nebraska” and in 1996 he was awarded an endowed chair as the “Isaacson Distinguished Professor of Music.”
In 2009 Dr. Saker received a third Citation of Excellence presented by the National Band Association and has been honored by the NSBA as the recipient of the prestigious Donald A. Lentz Outstanding Bandmaster Award. He was recognized by NMEA with the “Distinguished Service Award” in 2009, and in 2010 was inducted into the NMEA “Hall of Fame,” the first University of Nebraska Omaha faculty member to be so honored.