Carnegie Hall Bound
The USF Wind Ensemble has been invited to perform at the renowned hall in New York City next year.
By Brandi Hollis
The event will take place March 1-5, and is an opportunity for the Wind Ensemble to perform in front of the New York art community as well as hundreds of high school band students from around the nation. Every year, one large university and one smaller liberal arts college is invited to perform to showcase the best in college ensemble performance.
The Wind Ensemble opened the American Bandmasters Association National Convention this past March and made such an impression on William Johnson, the artistic director of the New York Wind Band Festival, that he invited the group to New York.
“We were invited to come because of our quality,” said John Carmichael, director of bands at USF. “It was the first performance of any band in front of a national audience of wind band conductors, their peers, their colleagues.”
This is the first invitation the Wind Ensemble has ever had to play at Carnegie Hall. The group of 50 to 60 students will have to come up with close $1,600 each for the trip.
“We have to ensure first of all that if we have a kid who has demonstrated real financial need,” said Carmichael, “we can make sure they have the money to go, if we have money to give them.”
Carmichael, who has been to Carnegie Hall but never had the chance to conduct there before, is excited to give a performance but stresses that talent, and not financial ability, will be the deciding factor during auditions for the trip.
“I am not going to take a less than stellar group up there and represent this university,” said Carmichael. “I’m not going to do that.”
Carmichael has high expectations of the group he hopes to take. He has already asked Baljinder Sekhon, visiting professor of composition, to compose a duo concerto for percussion with the Wind Ensemble as accompaniment.
Robert McCormick, professor of music, will be one of the percussion duo and will work closely with Sekhon to create the 15 to 20 minute piece and select the second percussionist.
Sekhon has composed several pieces and his music has been performed around the world including Thailand, Mexico, Brazil, France, Sweden, Canada, The Netherlands, Norway, China, South Korea, and across the United States.
Sekhon hopes to have the piece for the Wind Ensemble completed by mid-January, so the students have enough time to rehearse the piece. Students who are selected for the trip will practice up to three days a week until the March performance.
Michael Carp, a senior in music performance who plays percussion, wants to go on the trip but is worried about the practice time as well as the financial costs.
“It doesn’t get much better than going to New York and playing at Carnegie, I mean as far as being a performer,” said Carp.
But Carp said graduating and applying for graduate school will take away from practice time he would need. His more pressing concern, however, is how to pay for the trip with his part-time job while practicing enough for both the Carnegie trip and graduate school auditions.
Sam Snow, a senior in music education, plays the French horn and is glad her family is willing to assist her with the costs of the trip. The opportunity of play on such a prestigious stage has even caused her to delay graduation for a semester so that she can have plenty of time to practice.
Snow played at Carnegie in the same festival as a freshman in high school and watched, impressed, at the colleges that performed for them.
“It’s kind of full circle for me,” said Snow, “because now I’ll have the opportunity to be in the college group that’s invited to play for the high schoolers.”
For more information on the trip, and donating to assist students with the cost, contact Carmichael by email.