The Signal

Serving the College since 1885

Monday March 4th

New Wind Orchestra joins the Bands program, harmonizing community and talent

(Photo courtesy of Shane Gillespie / Photo Editor)
(Photo courtesy of Shane Gillespie / Photo Editor)

By Isabella Darcy 

Opinions Editor

There are currently over 150 students in the College’s Bands program, and until this semester, there were only two ensembles to host them all. With that ratio, practices and performances would become too crowded, a close community would be difficult to foster and students would not get enough individual attention. The program needed another ensemble. 

In hopes of improving the Bands program, the director and assistant director of bands, Dr. Eric Laprade, and Professor Adam Warshafsky, respectively, collaborated to create the College’s newest ensemble, the Wind Orchestra, which Warshafsky directs.

“We were so happy to see so many students interested in being a part of TCNJ Bands that we needed to create a third ensemble so that we could best serve all of the students,” Warshafsky said.

The addition of the Wind Orchestra has allowed for a more even distribution of students throughout the ensembles. There are approximately 65 students in the Concert Band and 45 students in both the Wind Ensemble and the Wind Orchestra. 

The Concert Band would have had over 110 students this semester if the Wind Orchestra had not been created, according to Warshafsky. Fitting over 110 students on a stage would be physically difficult. 

A larger ensemble also makes it harder to foster a close community. The Wind Orchestra has already fostered a fun and trusting community, according to Warshafsky.

“We work really hard and we have a culture of trust and support for each other, but we also have a lot of fun,” Warshafsky said. “If there’s a rehearsal where there’s no laughter, then something’s not right.”

The distribution of students throughout ensembles is still uneven, with the Concert Band having about 20 more students than both the Wind Ensemble and Wind Orchestra. This is because wind ensembles and orchestras are typically made up of 45 people organized in certain sections. 

The College’s Wind Orchestra consists of a woodwind section, brass section, percussion section and string bass. 

Any student at the College who has any level of experience playing an instrument can join the Wind Orchestra by enrolling on PAWS. Both music and non-music majors can join, and an audition is not required. The ensemble counts as a four-credit class that students can complete to fulfill the Literary, Visual or Performing Arts graduation requirement. 

“We’re trying to provide fulfilling, enriching, creative experiences for students,” Laprade said.

Students join the Wind Orchestra for a number of reasons. Some want a community to make music with, others are fulfilling a graduation requirement and some are working their way up to the Wind Ensemble. 

The Wind Ensemble is the most advanced of all the groups in the College’s Bands program and requires an audition to join. 

Junior kinesiology and health sciences major Alex Brenner is a trombone player in the Wind Orchestra and aims to be in the Wind Ensemble. Brenner auditioned for the Wind Ensemble but fell short of making it in, so he joined the Wind Orchestra instead. 

“It’s been great being in Wind Orchestra,” Brenner said. “We’ve had some more challenging pieces, which has allowed me to progress more as a musician.”

Brenner is far from the only hard-working student in the Wind Orchestra. 

“The students are incredibly motivated and responsible and take a lot of ownership over what happens in rehearsals,” Warshafsky said. “The students spend a lot of time outside of rehearsal practicing and preparing their parts so when they show up to our rehearsals, they can play their parts.”

The Wind Orchestra rehearses in Mildred and Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall on Mondays and Thursdays from 7 p.m. until 8:20 p.m.. During rehearsals, students and Warshafsky collaborate to make artistic decisions about how they want to interpret and play repertoire. This includes discussions about the ensemble’s speed, how certain sections of the music should be phrased and what type of balance they are looking for. 

“That’s a very exciting collaborative process we have together,” Warshafsky said. “Like they say, time flies when you’re having fun. It really goes fast. Eighty minutes happens in a blink.”

The ensemble also uses rehearsal time to collectively prepare for performances. The Wind Orchestra is projected to have two performances per semester. Its first performance was on Oct. 14, after having 11 total rehearsals as a group. 

“It’s pretty impressive to hear what they’re able to do after only being together 11 times,” Warshafsky said.

The concert, “Poetics!,” included separate performances from both the Wind Orchestra and Wind Ensemble. Some of the pieces, in both ensembles’ performances, were musical interpretations of poems, inspiring the concert's name. 

“At the concert, we pulled it together and it was a pretty solid performance for both Wind Orchestra and Wind Ensemble,” Brenner said.

The students who make up the Wind Orchestra may be of different ages, majors and backgrounds, but a new musical community has brought them together.

“The culture of music making and creativity is thriving at the College,” Laprade said, “and our doors are open.”


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