Wind Ensemble bring education, enjoyment

The melodic notes that filled UVM’s Music Recital Hall on Nov. 8 were courtesy of the Vermont Wind Ensemble, playing their latest concert to a crowd of eager listeners.The musicians in the Vermont Wind Ensemble are not only students, but also alumni, faculty and other musicians from the community, creating a unique dynamic.”You’ll have a freshman playing alongside someone who has been playing for 20 years,” conductor D. Thomas Toner said.The mix of beginning and veteran musicians serves, in some ways, as a teaching platform.”Since we don’t have a master’s program, students get the same kind of exposure,” Toner said.The presence of older, more experienced musicians can serve as inspiration to the students in the ensemble.”They come from different musical experiences and hold a variety of careers,” seniorensemble member Danielle Xanthos said. “Their passion for music is evident in both rehearsal and performance. This was my final semester and performance at UVM, and they have inspired me to join an ensemble back home on Long Island once I graduate.”The range of experience of musicians in the ensemble doesn’t only benefit the students. For professors, the ensemble can be a kind of outlet that they might not otherwise have, according to Toner.Although the Vermont Wind Ensemble is primarily about playing together to create a beautiful sound, some aspects of it are very individual.”Because it only meets once a week, the ability to work on your own is really important,” Toner said. This independent work can have a lot of pay off for the musicians.”There’s a lot of opportunity for individual growth because it’s pretty much one player per part,” sophomore member Kalle Fjeld said.Toner considers what students can learn and how they can grow when he chooses the music to perform. The pieces that the wind ensemble plays are a combination of pieces chosen for instructive purposes and ones that sound familiar, according to Toner.”We are an educational institution,” Toner said, “I try to choose both what they expect and what they don’t expect,”At its core, the Vermont Wind Ensemble is about an opportunity to enjoy playing music.”I grew up listening to band music recordings my dad always plays at home so it has always been part of my life,” junior member Margaret Roddy said. “I just like to play!””I never thought I’d continue playing baritone saxophone in college until I realized toward the end of high school what an impact it had on my life,” Xanthos said. “It had become a form of catharsis.” Combining professors and students, among others, to learn and enjoy playing music, the Vermont Wind Ensemble can be seen an indication of the merits of UVM’s music department as a whole.”Indeed it’s a small department and we’re not a conservatory but it has good faculty, talented students, and a big heart,” Roddy said.