Brock University Wind Ensemble assembles

On Tuesday March 29, the Brock University Wind Ensemble will play their last recital of the year in Partridge Hall at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC). The show will be featuring the many talented members of the ensemble who have been working hard to prepare for the event. Their dedication and musical prowess are evident upon hearing them.

“I like it a lot. It’s a lot of working, but it’s very rewarding when you play the concerts. This concert should be no exception,” said Ryan Baxter, a first-year piano student in Brock’s music program who plays in the percussion section of the wind ensemble as well.

“I’m at Brock for piano, but I’ve played percussion for a long time and I still enjoy it. I wanted to keep doing it and the wind ensemble gave me the opportunity to do that,” said Baxter. “It’s my first year at Brock and my first year in the Wind Ensemble. I’m taking it as a course. I played percussion in the Niagara Youth Orchestra for many years but this is my first year with the wind ensemble through the university.”

The musical style of the recital is certain to have something for everybody.

“It’s a very good mixture. There’s some jazz/blues stuff, there’s some up-beat, fast stuff… It’s very contemporary for sure,” said Makayla Todd, a grade twelve student at Laura Secord Secondary School who plays bass clarinet in the wind ensemble.

Zoltan Kalman conducting the Wind Ensemble / Matt Von Lukawiecki

Zoltan Kalman conducting the Wind Ensemble / Matt Von Lukawiecki

“We’ve got some cinema music in this show as well. A lot of wind Ensemble repertoire is arranged so a lot of it comes from the 20th or 21st century,” added Baxter.

Since it is a Brock ensemble, it is comprised of a large amount of Brock students who are gaining a university credit for their work in the ensemble like Baxter.

“A fair amount of us are actually Brock students and Niagara students,” said Baxter. “At least a third of us are from Brock. Most of the students from Brock are likely in the music program as well although there are others in the ensemble who go to Brock but aren’t in the music program. Even if you aren’t a music student you can still take this course for a music credit through Brock.”

However, like Todd, there are also a large amount of community members who are just looking to be a part of a larger group of musicians and play great music.

“We have some members who are community members in their late 70s who are really good, despite not being professionals. The community members are great because although students practice a lot, they have been studying these things for years. We really look up to them,” explained Baxter.

Overall, the musicians who took it upon themselves to join the ensemble seem to have enjoyed being a part of it. Even if it meant a lot of hard work and sacrifice to get to where they are today.

“It is a lot of working. The repertoire can be very challenging at times and it’s very taxing but it’s also a lot of fun with a big payoff,” said Todd.

With this in mind, Todd suggested that any musician looking to improve in their art should look to joining the Brock Wind Ensemble. She said, “It is for all different playing levels as well. When I joined I was in grade ten and that was only a year into playing bass clarinet. It’s for everyone. You grow into it and get better as you go, especially since you are surrounding yourself with some very talented musicians.”

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This past Friday was the wind ensemble’s first out of building concert. A portion of the ensemble went out to play in Market Square in St. Catharines. It was a successful endeavor but don’t wait to see a show like that again any time soon. The Wind Ensemble rarely leaves their concert halls.

“It was our first out of building concert. We had about half the ensemble and performed in Market Square. We had great feedback from the audience,”said Baxter. “We don’t travel too far with the ensemble. There’s a lot of us so it’s hard for us to really get around. In Ontario there also isn’t much in the way of inter-ensemble competition. It gets too hard to figure out everybody’s schedule in large ensembles like this one. Maybe that will get easier now though with this giant Partridge Hall stage.”

“We don’t get out often but we do have two annual concerts that feature the same ensemble with a different repertoire,” added Todd.

The Brock Wind Ensemble is constantly looking for new musicians to join their ranks from year to year. If you play an instrument the ensemble could use and if you are interested in working alongside the many other musicians in it, including the esteemed conductor, Zoltan Kalman, perhaps the wind ensemble is the place for you.

The Wind Ensemble plays in Partridge Hall at the PAC on March 29 at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are on sale from the PAC box office. For more information, check out firstontariopac.ca or brocku.ca/miwsfpa

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