By Connor Yearsley and James Herd
Today the Wind Ensemble concert will give a preview of the music the ensemble will take on tour over Spring Break.
The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Jones Concert Hall in the Glennis McCrary Music Building and will be the ensemble’s first opportunity to run the program from beginning to end before the tour. The concert is free and open to the public.
On March 16, the Baylor Wind Ensemble will embark on a five-state tour, culminating with its performance at the College Band Directors National Association’s National Conference in Greensboro, NC.
The Baylor Wind Ensemble was one of eight university ensembles admitted to play at the conference. It was one out of 46 ensembles who sent in recordings for review
Additionally, the ensemble was awarded one of the two prime performance slots.
“If you were to compare it to an athletic event, this is like the Final Four,” said Dr. Eric Wilson, director of bands at Baylor.
Wilson said the group has been admitted to play at the biennial conference twice in the last six years. It participated in the 2009 conference, which was held at the University of Texas at Austin.
Master’s candidate in performance studies Caitlin Adams said that it’s an important time for the music department.
“I think it’s a pretty big deal because as far as I know we haven’t really done too much, I mean Baylor anyways, on the East Coast, music-wise,” Adams said. “This will really help us branch out in that direction and get our name out there more. Also, it’s a big conference, with a lot of more modern, new-type music, which Baylor plays a lot more in that area, and that’s new to me because I came from a more classically inclined music program in my undergrad.”
Before the ensemble returns on March 22, it will make stops in Little Rock, Ark., Nashville, Tenn., Atlanta, and Greenville, S.C.
Wilson said the ensemble typically does a tour within the state at least once a year, but this inter-state tour will be a first.
“This will be the first tour that extends outside our state since I’ve been here, and this is my seventh year,” he said.
Wilson said he’s excited about the entire trip, but he’s especially looking forward to playing in Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, where Baylor alumnus Giancarlo Guerrero is the music director of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.
“It’s one of the world’s fantastic performance halls, and for us to have an opportunity to perform on such a stage is very thrilling,” Wilson said.
Wilson began the process of booking the venues last summer. He said he’s happy to have support from friends of Baylor.
“I’m very happy to have the administrative support of Baylor officials,” he said.
Wilson said preparing for the conference, which revolves around contemporary music, has presented its challenges.
“One of the biggest challenges was choosing repertoire that would not only fit the nature of the conference, but would also be accessible to general audiences,” he said.
Wilson used the ensemble’s three concerts of the fall semester, as well as the spring concerts leading up to the tour, to help prepare for the conference. Each of those concerts featured some pieces that will be taken on the road.
“This is an ambitious trip, but we’re really looking forward to the opportunity of playing,” Wilson said.“We will be performing perhaps the most ambitious concert repertoire in one concert program, which, for the students, is an opportunity to perform at a very high level in some very aesthetically-pleasing venues along the way.”
The program for the concert, as well as the tour, will include “Fanfare on Motifs of ‘Die Gurrelieder’” by Arnold Schoenberg, “Passage” by Scott Lindroth, “Derivations for Clarinet and Band” by Morton Gould, “Winds of Nagual: A Musical Fable on the Writings of Carlos Castaneda” by Michael Colgrass, “Ecstatic Fanfare” by Steven Bryant, “Point Blank” by Paul Dooley, “Duende: Four Preludes for Symphonic Wind Ensemble” by Luis Serrano Alarcón and “Gone” by Dr. Scott McAllister, professor of composition.
Dr. Jun Qian, assistant professor of clarinet, will be featured on “Derivations for Clarinet and Band.”
Wilson said the trip is important for Baylor. “The fact that Baylor has representation at this type of event is very significant,” he said.
Wilson said the ensemble doesn’t have many chances to place itself among other national ensembles, and this is an opportunity to showcase what Baylor has to offer, to increase visibility for the school and to recruit new students.
He also said the tour will give the ensemble a chance to reach out to the Baylor network in the areas where it will be performing.
Wilson said he looks forward to seeing the generous hospitality of supporters along the way.
“We’re looking forward to getting to meet and know members of Baylor Nation,” he said.
Wilson said he’s also looking forward to getting to know his students better. “I love my students and look forward to creating memories that will last a long time,” he said.
He said he thinks his students are also anticipating the trip.
“I think the students are enjoying the idea of hitting the road and having the opportunity to perform great music with wonderful friends,” Wilson said.
Wilson also said he is proud of his students.
“People will be stunned by our students’ artistry,” he said.