The World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE), the only international organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of wind bands throughout the world, held its 15th biennial annual conference in July, and SIUE’s Wind Symphony was invited.
“We’ve played in Carnegie Hall in New York. We’ve played for the Illinois Music Educators Association,” said John Bell, professor of music and director of bands at SIUE. “But we’ve never played for something of this magnitude.”
WASBE’s conference, held every two years in Europe, Asia or the U.S., set base in Chiayi City, Taiwan for its most recent performances. Every time WASBE holds a conference, a call goes out to all bands and ensembles throughout the world.
Each potential group must apply by answering questions about its type and choice of music, as well as put together audio recordings of the group performing different songs. If a band is based at a college or university, the association also inquires about the size of the school, the philosophy behind its music program and how the school runs the program in general.
This year, SIUE’s Wind Symphony was the only collegiate band from the U.S. accepted into the program.
“It was an incredible honor,” Bell said. “And immediately what happens is one thinks about the huge responsibility it is in selecting the program and making sure that it is representative of the students and of our program here and our programs in the U.S.”
Bell said the trip to Taiwan was a life-changing experience for the students and that many of them had not been out of the country before. They had time to visit historic monuments and sample the array of Taiwanese cuisine.
On the fifth day of the conference, SIUE’s Wind Symphony played music written by composers such as Michal Markowski and Katherine Salfelder. James Hinson, professor of music and coordinator of winds, brass and percussion at SIUE, joined the ensemble to perform Concerto Sion, a tribute to Composer Kevin Walczyk to his two children.
After the performance, the recording engineer at the conference gave Bell a note congratulating the band on its presentation, and said the “concert will go down as one of the most important in WASBE history.”
Filed Under: Music