Symphonic Wind Ensemble Tours NYC
The first Conservatory of Music west of the Mississippi River if heading to the east coast for a performance tour. Pacific’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble, which tours annually, is making its first trek to the east coast for a performance tour in New York City. The ensemble began its performance tour with a performance at Faye Spanos Concert Hall on March 5th, before they perform at one more West Coast stop at Stanford on March 10th. They will then perform at Grand Street High School in Brooklyn on March 12th, and will finish the tour with a final performance at Carnegie Hall on March 13th.
“This is basically the holy grail of musical performance venues, so everyone involved is beyond excited,” says Tyler Golding, ‘19, “It’s not every day that a wind band is invited to play as the premiere group.” The band is playing this tour in honor of the late Dr. Eric Hammer ‘73, Pacific’s Director of Bands who passed away on January 28th. “Of course, after Dr. Hammer’s untimely passing, one of the questions we were forced to ask ourselves was if we should and could go forward with this tour,” says graduate assistant Nico Peruzzi ‘20, “I think one of the greatest testaments to his legacy is the fact that we are able to go forward with this concert.” The Conservatory is still in the healing process, but the honoring of not only the legacy of Dr. Hammer, but the legacy that music at Pacific has had has been the most appropriate way that the community has felt to pay tribute to Hammer. “We’re still mourning, and I think this is one of the ways that our students can process their grief and make certain that they do things the way that Dr. Hammer taught us all, and I include the faculty and staff in that,” explains Conservatory Dean Peter Witte, “He had a certain way of living, and things were not always rosy in his life, but he chose to live joyfully.”
Pacific’s Conservatory is enjoying a year of increased enrollment, with this year’s freshman class making it the largest enrollment the Conservatory has had in its history. Dean Witte lists the New York City performances as an opportunity to show off the strength and size of the Conservatory. “We are at 259 students this year, we believe that is the highest enrollment on record, and we are being deliberate in placing Pacific on a national stage,” Witte explains, “This is what we hope is the start of an extroverted notion of what the Conservatory is and how unique it is as a part of Pacific’s many strengths.”
The Symphonic Wind Ensemble holds a performance tour each year, but there has yet to be a tour of this magnitude. “My freshman year we went to Seattle to play at the Western International Band Clinic, which was awesome, and two years ago we went down to Southern California and played at a few different locations,” remembers Golding, “Carnegie is on a whole other level.” The fact that Pacific is playing on such a large national stage is something that the members of the Conservatory is not taking for granted. “The fact is that our conservatory has some of the strongest programs of their kind in this half of the country, but many people outside of the music community aren’t aware of that,” explains Peruzzi, “I think this trip is a great opportunity for us to show what our music programs are all about.”
The performance tour has become a group effort from the Conservatory, as the importance of the trip has only been amplified by recent events as the Conservatory has continued to prepare. “Harvey Benstein and the admin of the conservatory have really gone above and beyond to make sure that this trip is a success and we would not have been able to do this without them,” says Peruzzi, “To us, it means finishing what we started, and overcoming all obstacles to put on a performance.”