Community members join UWRF Band in concert
September 25, 2008
This semester will mark the first time ever that community members and students will join together in a cooperative band at UW-River Falls.
The University Band, who will have two performances during the fall semester, has already begun practicing. Music professor Andrew Parks was chosen as the conductor for the band after playing in a community band for the last 10 years.
“We combined two ideas; we took this community band that’s only running through the summer and combined it with the extra students we weren’t able to fit in the symphony band,” Parks said.
Previously, UWRF had two bands on campus. The Symphony Band is, and will remain, the premier band. But now, instead of having a concert/pep band that plays at sporting events along with having concerts, the music department split it into a pep band and the University Band.
Some students, like Kimberly Cone, have the opportunity to play in more than one band. Cone plays in the Wind Ensemble in the Symphony Band along with playing the French horn in the University Band.
“I enjoy the different types of music.” Cone said. “Wind Ensemble is a challenge technically whereas University Band challenges my range and my ability to blend.”
Though combining community members and students in one ensemble is new to UWRF bands, it is not the first time it has been done on campus. The St. Croix Valley Symphony Orchestra, which has always included community members since it began in 1899, has been under the direction of music professor Kristin Tjornehoj for the last 16 years.
Along with directing the orchestra, Tjornehoj founded the St. Croix Valley Community Band, which only performs during the summer, 25 years ago.
“People [in the community band] have pressured me for a while for a year long band,” Tjornehoj said.
Tjornehoj, the mastermind behind the University Band, said the idea was sparked last June when the community band invited students on the band’s trip to Prague.
“It was interesting because at first the students weren’t too crazy about going on a trip with older adults and older adults weren’t crazy about going on a trip with students,” Tjornehoj said. “But as the trip went on the interaction between students and adults was unreal.”
Tjornehoj chose Parks to be the director of the band because he was the “most natural choice” because of his involvement with the community band and at UWRF.
According to Parks, there are currently only three community members, compared to 18 students, in the University Band. Cone said the interaction between the two groups has thus far been positive.
“I really enjoy playing with people of all ages,” Cone said. “The community members don’t think about us as ‘college students,’ they treat us like musicians; there’s a lot of respect.”
Maria Olson has been a member of the St. Croix Valley Community Band since 1995 and will be a percussionist for the University Band this fall.
“My hope for the University Band is that we will build a fun, enjoyable, great sounding ensemble that band members will be proud to play in and UWRF as a whole can be proud of,” Olson said in an e-mail interview. “I think the interaction between community band members and students is great. Students get to benefit from the experience of community band members and community members get to stay young hanging out with students.”
Parks said although the expectations for the band are not extremely high, he likes to conduct challenging music and will choose music to challenge the students and community members.
“The trick is to try and choose a range of music that satisfies everybody, so that everybody is happy,” Parks said.
As far as the music he will choose to conduct with the band this semester, Parks said he will challenge the musicians.
“I like to conduct the classic band literature, something that you can really sink your teeth into,” Parks said. “Maybe it’s difficult for the players and you’re going to have to help them solve problems; and also challenging to conduct.”
The University Band’s performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4 and a holiday extravaganza at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11.