Wind Ensemble plays with passion

One of the most integral parts of the music department at Tarleton State University is the Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band.
The Symphonic Band is one of the large concert instrumental ensembles at Tarleton. The traditional role has been to offer a performing ensemble for non-music majors and for music majors who have yet to audition into the Wind Ensemble.
The Symphonic Band was created in 1994-1995 and was originally called the Second Concert Band. It was created to provide students who were not in the Wind Ensemble the opportunity to play in a concert band. For about a decade, this ensemble was offered only when needed. The concert band became a permanent fixture in the Tarleton schedule in 2004 under the Director of Athletic Bands, Rich Bahner. This ensemble has been offered every spring semester since. In order to avoid the generic name of second concert band, the name of the ensemble changed to Symphonic Band in 2010.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Symphonic Band was offered in the fall 2020 semester because the Marching Band season was postponed to the spring 2021 semester and the number of students who auditioned for Wind Ensemble. Because of increased interest from students, Symphonic Band is now offered in the fall and spring semesters and a third concert band was created called University Band, which will be offered in the spring only. As time passes, more information will become available to students.
“Why is performing so important? Performance [in whatever venue or opportunity] allows our students to make musical decisions, to collaborate within and across different sections, to work towards unified and achievable goals. Most importantly it allows them to create and provide experiences that can evoke “feeling-full responses,” Music Professor and Director of Athletic Bands, Dr. Gary Westbrook said.
“The aspect of live performance allows all present, performer, conductor and audience, to have emotional experiences, to create and to enjoy,” Westbrook said.
The first Symphonic Band concert featured the music of John Philip Sousa. For the second concert, they focused on two works with electronic accompaniment.
Wind Ensemble is the top concert band at Tarleton. It is conducted by audition only and it comprises the best concert band musicians on campus. Wind Ensemble meets as a normal class, and for music majors it is part of their curriculum since most of them will be playing or teaching as a living. Not only is it part of student’s education, but it is also a service to the university.
They play two concerts per semester and also play at both the fall and spring graduation ceremonies. When the band program was created in 1919, there was only one big band. Eventually, the band program has diversified and separated into different entities, which was what caused the creation of the Wind Ensemble.

“The concert bands and the Wind Ensemble are the most visible part of what we do. Marching Band is probably the most visible because of [the] football games, but Wind Ensemble you will see at graduations. Specifically with the Wind Ensemble, it is the realization of all that the best music students on campus work on. It exhibits best qualities of our musicians on campus, and it gives a platform to see the quality of the music majors on campus,” Director of Bands, Dr. David Robinson said.
In a normal semester, the Wind Ensemble would have a two day invitational festival where high school concert bands come to the Stephenville campus and play. This festival also includes a guest composer, and the music played during this festival is largely the work of that composer. Due to the pandemic, the Wind Ensemble could not have this festival and focused on their performances rather than a theme of music.
The Wind Ensemble was invited to the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) that was held in February 2021, in San Antonio. They were selected by a blind recording. This is the first time Tarleton’s Wind Ensemble has been invited to TMEA.
“This concert [was] important because this [was] the first time that many music educators in the state hear our ensemble. It provides a conduit for people to see what’s going on in our music [program] that normally wouldn’t be there,” Robinson said.
The Wind Ensemble is anticipating a recruiting tour, where they will make two stops in San Antonio.
“It’s a big deal because we’ve never been in that crowd of the people who have been invited because the larger schools in the state go every four years. To be a part of the group that has been invited to play is a big deal for us because it’s a credential,” Robinson said.
For the fall 2021 semester, the music department will follow university protocols. Because of the nature of wind and brass instruments, they will evaluate if certain COVID-19 protocols need to stay in place longer in order for the students to prepare and perform safely. The music department is hopeful that keeping the protocols will not be necessary and that they can continue with a usual semester.
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