Symphonic Band ‘runs marathon’ of performances

Recently, the symphonic band put on it’s mid-winter concert. It is a unique and quickened time for the musicians. While some may think that all the concerts are the same level of difficulty, they are not.   

“The fall concert we’re just learning what our ensemble sounds like, in the spring we start to pick harder music,” said Dr. Ronda DePriest, director of the music program.

With the capabilities of the ensemble viewed at its potential, the songs are selected by DePriest for the Conducting Symposium. The Conducting Symposium is an event that features the symphonic band and several different composers that rehearse pieces that will be used in the concert.

“We use a lot of the same pieces,” said DePriest. “I look at the strengths of the ensemble and I try to set aside a repertoire that is easier for the ensemble.”

The Symposium helps in aiding the ensemble as an outside motivator which also makes it unique as they are within a week of each other.

“It is unique that it follows the Conducting Symposium,” said Jeremy Olisar, Adjunct woodwind instructor. “It is always better to have an external motivator.”

While many concerts usually have a theme or story to them, this one does not. It is seen as a more educational experience. Olisar described it as not thematic, but a diverse selection.

“There wasn’t a specific theme really,” said DePriest. “It was kind of an educational concert, but meant for us to have fun.”

With less time to prepare, attending every practice was vital to a good performance. If a musician misses just one, the band can suffer.

“I believe we had ample time,” said sophomore band officer Joshua Gunter. “What people aren’t realizing is we have two hours a week and most of us are non-majors.”

Gunter and DePriest both agree that there is always room to improve even during the concert. 

“There were some hiccups,” Gunter said. “But there were some that went better than expected.” 

The Symposium played a significant role in shaping the band’s sound and performance. This event is about a day and a half, which can be very demanding of the players. Once it is done, their chops and facial muscles feel weaker.

“We get about four, five, six hours of playing in two days, where as that would normally be about two weeks of playing for us,” DePriest said. “Anytime you spend that much dedicated focus time on a piece you’re definitely gonna get better at it.”

“I was mentally and physically tired after it,” added DePriest. “We’ve been running these short sprints in rehearsal and now we’re running the marathon in two days.”

With this concert a success and another concert to prepare for later this spring, the symphonic band keeps going. This concert is set for April 18.

“The destinations keep getting better the more you do it,” said DePriest.