As spring term draws to a close and graduation approaches for the class of 2023, Oregon State University’s Wind Ensemble prepares for commencement and to say farewell to some of its former and current members through one final performance.
The OSU Wind Ensemble features 43 brass, woodwind and percussion players who, according to Erik Leung, professor of music and director of bands at OSU, are the “best musicians in the school.” Leung also described the process of preparing for this event as “fairly familiar” for Ensemble members since practices mainly consist of reading over music that will be performed.
One of the main challenges for the group is coordinating with singers and ensuring everyone performs on cue. “But we’ve done it before, so it’s just about honing in on things we need to improve on,” Leung added.
Leung also expressed excitement about inviting graduating seniors that played in the Wind Ensemble during their time at OSU for a final performance with the rest of the group as a last goodbye.
“It’s a powerful moment as they leave and we keep playing – it’s a very moving experience,” Leung said.
Lisandro Valdez, a former clarinet player in the Wind Ensemble and music education senior, stated that performing at graduation and the shock of graduating overall “hasn’t hit yet.”
“It kinda just feels like another event to look at and be like, ‘Alright, next thing!’ But the next thing is finding something else after graduating from OSU. It’s definitely gonna be bittersweet leaving,” Valdez said.
“It was definitely nice last year when I played at graduation … seeing the seniors, student teachers come back and join us for that last hoorah,” Emily Miller, another music education major and french horn player in Wind Ensemble, said. “It’s just really nice to make music for the last time all together at a monumental event.”
Both Valdez and Miller expressed a sense of gratitude for their time in the music program and the different opportunities they were able to experience at OSU, including being a part of various other music groups, such as the opportunity to perform in and direct the OSU Wind Symphony.
What made the Wind Ensemble special for Miller was the experience of playing in a group that required another level of skill and excellence.
“(Wind Ensemble) has made me way more focused and way more appreciative of all the other groups I’m a part of as well,” Miller said. “Because it is so different and much more serious, I definitely appreciate the variety it has given me through that.”
Team building, for Valdez, has been the most important part of performing in Wind Ensemble, along with the opportunity to create something new with other people through music.
“What happens with the music then is it goes from this large piece of paper with a bunch of ink on it into something that can be described as auditory art,” Valdez said.
He also expressed being proud of being able to play Latin American pieces in a recital during spring term of 2022 that are not traditionally showcased in Western music.
After graduation, Valdez hopes to work in a middle or high school setting after student teaching for the past few months, and has applied to schools in different regions across the state. Similarly, Miller is also student teaching, but mentioned wanting to teach general music in an elementary school setting.
While graduation celebrates the accomplishments of each graduating senior in their time at OSU, the music department and Wind Ensemble holds a special place in the hearts of directors and students alike as graduating seniors prepare for bigger things beyond their college experience.
In a final comment, Valdez enthusiastically stated, “Go Beavs!”
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