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Masterson to receive Governor’s Art Award

A long, varied and colorful musical career prompted the Wyoming Arts Council to select Mike Masterson for one of five 2010 Governor’s Art Awards.

Masterson, who retired from the Northwest College Music Department last year after 30 years with the college, was recognized for his work with the Buffalo Bill Cowboy Band as well as other accomplishments, such as directing the Northwest Studio Singers, establishing music festivals and serving as chairman of the NWC Visual and Performing Arts Division.

Masterson said he is honored by the award, which will be presented Feb. 11 in Cheyenne.

“This is really one of those peak honors,” he said. “These are celebrating the best of the best, and the whole state is involved ... To be included as an honoree like this, for me, is a really exciting prospect.”

Ronnie Bedford of Powell, who nominated Masterson for the award, said, “He’s deserving of it because he’s done so much for the college and the community and the state.”

Bedford said Masterson has introduced the music of the Buffalo Bill Cowboy Band around the state as well as in Montana and Colorado.

That was possible thanks to his previous research of the music played by the historic Buffalo Bill Cowboy Band in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

His research resulted in a CD recording of the historic brass-band music and earned Masterson his doctorate degree, Bedford said.

That music will be heard again in Cheyenne during the award ceremony in February.

“They want a Buffalo Bill concert down there,” Masterson said. “We’ll play as people come in, before it starts, then we’ll play a feature performance in the middle of the banquet when I receive the award.”

The Wyoming Arts Council will help pay the band’s costs to travel to Cheyenne, he said.

“It is an exciting thing,” he said.

Bedford said he worked with Masterson for 25 years, and “he was very supportive of me ... Mike even toured with me with the (NWC Studio) Singers. I had Ronnie Bedford and Friends, and he opened for me. We just had a great, great time working together.”

Bedford, who received the Governor’s Art Award in 1993, said, “I understand what it takes to deserve the award, and Mike certainly deserves it. He’s special. He’s very special.”

Other 2010 award winners are the Bradford Brinton Memorial and Museum of Sheridan, writer Nancy Curtis of Glendo, pARTners of Jackson and Stage II Community Theater of Casper.

Rita Basom, Wyoming Arts Council manager, said the council received many letters in support of Masterson’s award.

“These area awards to honor and recognize individuals and organizations for their support of the arts in the state of Wyoming,” she said.

She noted that, normally, there are four winners each year.

“But last year and this year, it was such a difficult decision, the board decided to honor five,” she said.

Masterson said the honor is an exciting reward for the fact that he “always just worked and tried to do all the jobs that needed to be done.

“Now, to be recognized by the Wyoming Arts Council and my peers, it really is a humbling and thrilling experience.”

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