Two ensembles, one symphonic performance

From staff reports

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Students often walk a fine line between their obligations to school and extracurricular activities, but they owe it to themselves to dedicate time to their diverse talents, said Danh Pham, director of WSU bands.

Students in the WSU Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble will give a performance at 8 p.m. tomorrow in Bryan Hall Theatre. The ensembles, led by Pham and Associate Director of Bands Troy Bennefield, will perform works by David Holsinger, Christopher Tucker, and John Philip Sousa.

“The Symphonic Band is a non-auditioned band, meaning any student with an instrumental-music background can join,” Bennefield said. “The Symphonic Wind Ensemble is a select group of the finest woodwind, brass, and percussion students at WSU.”

The Symphonic Band and Symphonic Wind Ensemble perform two concerts per semester, Bennefield said. Bennefield and Pham often share conducting duties between the ensembles, including Thursday when Pham will conduct the Symphonic Band.

“Usually, when we feature soloists, we call upon our fantastic faculty to be featured. This time, we will showcase the talents of a percussion quartet made up entirely of students,” Pham said. “Ian Steiner, Mike Troianello, Ariana Barela, and Christopher Nelson will perform the grand finale piece, which mixes a potpourri of percussion instruments through the vehicle of virtuosity.”

Bennefield said the pieces the ensembles will perform were selected to challenge the students, further develop their musical skills, and to provide enjoyable music for them to work on all at once.

“It is a spectacular way to end the fall season,” Pham said.

Students have worked to improve their individual sound, technique, and music-making ability, Bennefield said.

“These musicians are trying to make this their life art. And, in that pursuit, we discover new ways students learn and more efficient ways to teach,” Pham said. “For me, this is an exciting process.”

Bennefield said watching students come from a diverse background of musical experiences and make individual improvements is what makes his position as director so enjoyable.

“As a group, we work to bring out the composers’ intent in the pieces to create an enjoyable musical experience for the performers and the audience,” Bennefield said.

The biggest challenge for students, Pham said, is balancing their various academic studies.

“Music is one of those important studies … not everyone is music major. So, we have students that have to find time outside their incredibly busy schedule to look and practice their music,” Pham said. “It’s becoming harder because we have so many students that are talented in so many different areas.”

Pham said he believes the arts are an important part of any community, but especially in Pullman. 

“Most of the pieces were selected because of their player appeal. There’s a little something for every student to enjoy,” Pham said. “We hope the audience will as well.”

Attending live music events is essential to keeping the arts alive in our community, Pham said.

“This free concert is a fantastic way to support our students, be entertained with some of the finest band music, and enjoy talented musicians from all over the campus,” he said.

Reporting by Katherine Lipp