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PSU Wind Ensemble presents student-led ‘Grassroots’ concert

The PSU Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Andrew Chybowski, presented their first virtual concert, showcasing smaller groups organized by students. 

The concert was streamed from the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. and featured a wide variety of music and configurations of the typical wind ensemble. Music performed included “Blue Ridge Reel” by Brian Balmages, “Sevilla” from the Suite Espagnole by Isaac Albeniz arranged for saxophone quartet, “Sheltering Skies” by John Mackey, “Simple Gifts” arranged by Frank Ticheli, “Heroes Triumphant” for horn trio by Gavin Lent, “Brass Sextet in E-flat Minor” by Oskar Bohme, and “Bell” from Cajun Folksong by Frank Ticheli. The concert was entirely student led with minor organization efforts made by Chybowski and all health and safety regulations were followed. All performers were required to wear masks, keep social distance, and all wind players had additional protective measures such as cloth covers for the openings of their instruments. 

“As you know, a lot is different this year,” Chybowski said. “New safety measures, protocols and equipment have become a part of our daily process… Our group has been split up into several chamber ensembles, allowing them to practice social distancing during rehearsals and concerts. You’ll also notice the protective equipment being worn by our students while performing. These are only a couple of the most noticeable changes we have faced this semester…” 

Chybowski also spoke on the matter of how COVID-19 precautions have affected the purpose of the PSU Wind Ensemble and the department of music as a whole. 

“Throughout this process, the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff is always the bottom line,” Chybowski said. “Our guiding purpose as an institution is to provide a world-class education to our students and that has not changed. To achieve both of these goals, the question we asked was not ‘What limitations do we need to impose on our normal routine?’ Rather, ‘What can we do more effectively in our current circumstances than we can normally?’ For the PSU Wind Ensemble, the answers to that question include focusing on 21st century skills like producing and recording a virtual concert and giving ensemble members the opportunity to take a hands-on approach to programming, rehearsing, and performing a concert from beginning to end.” 

The PSU Wind Ensemble would normally host performances featuring a full group of approximately 40 students playing a variety of instruments, but regulations and concerns of health and safety prevented a full ensemble performance this year. 

“I really enjoyed the process of being able to put together this (program) with a smaller group..,” said April Hodges, senior in music education. “I really enjoyed this opportunity to work with each other because it was a student-led project and a lot of us really connect with each other and the music to figure out what it meant for us…” 

For many of the students, this was their first virtual performance or first student-organized music project they had been a part of. 

“This has added a new element to our ensemble,” said Kimberly Simms, junior in music education. “We’ve got to record ourselves and that’s been a fun opportunity – to experience with everyone, getting your parts ready and coming together…” 

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