The students involved in the Waynesburg University symphonic band enjoy demonstrating their talents. Although they often have the chance to show that talent on campus, it’s rare for them to play with students from many other colleges in one large group. During the final weekend of spring break, four band students got the chance to do just that at the 72nd Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Band Festival.
The festival is the oldest continuously running intercollegiate band in the country, Dr. Ronda DePriest, director of the music program, said. This year, the band featured 115 student players from 28 colleges, all gathered together to practice and perform 23 different instruments at Wilkes University March 8-10.
DePriest, who has attended the event with students for 10 years, said the most special aspect of the festival for students at Waynesburg is that they can be a part of such a large group.
“Just hearing a full ensemble, where all the parts are covered [is special],” DePriest said. “It’s a real plus for them to meet students from other colleges and just chat with them. They really make a lot of friends and network a lot.”
It’s not easy to get the opportunity to play in the festival, said junior Harrison Scott, who played the horn in the band. This was Scott’s third time performing at the festival, but each year he has gone through the process of applying with his musical résumé, auditioning and waiting for a response on whether he was accepted and, if so, what seat on the band he would be holding.
Along with Scott, junior Katelynn Ossege, junior Joshua Farinet and freshman Lilian Cross were also accepted into the festival.
Ossege, who came as a spectator last year, said it was
Student musicians perform during prestigious festival
a different experience being on the other side of the conductor and playing in the band as an upperclassmen.
“The interaction between the conductor and the band is very special and unique, and it was just cool seeing that,” Ossage said.
The guest conductor at this year’s festival was Major Michelle Rakers, the first female assistant director of the United States Marine Corps Band and first female commissioned officer in the history of the organization. Scott and Ossege expressed how important she was to the festival this year.
“The conductor was fantastic… you knew she was prestigious, and yet she carried herself in a very laid-back manor,” Scott said. “You could tell she had worked hard to get where she was.”
Scott added that she had auditioned for the U.S. Marine Band five times before being awarded a national position in the band.
Ossage said playing in the intercollegiate band played a part in helping her grow her musical craft in a new way.
“While, yes, we play hard music here at Waynesburg, [the Intercollegiate Band Festival] is another challenge, and it gives me one more piece that I can play,” Ossage said. “It gives me one more new fingering to learn how to maneuver keys faster and to do that while meeting other students who can help identify those.”
Overall, the festival was one of Scott’s most enjoyable musical experiences.
“Needless to say, “the concert was phenomenal. It was honestly, I think, the best concert I have ever played in,” Scott said.