Wind ensemble blows away audience

Wind ensemble

The YSU Wind Ensemble performs at the seventh annual wind and percussion invitational at Stambaugh Auditorium on Feb. 22. Photo by Justin Carissimo/The Jambar.

The Youngstown State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble has long been a staple in the Youngstown area, with members who have gone on to become key musicians in the Cleveland Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Alice Wang, an associate professor in the Dana School of Music, said the wind ensemble is remarkably talented. It is composed of the school’s top wind and percussion players.

“The group performs some of the best and most challenging band repertoire under the wonderful direction of Dr. Gage,” Wang said. “The students are truly great role models and an inspiration for the community.”

This semester, freshman trumpeter Bevin Flaugher made it into the wind ensemble.

“My first semester, I was in concert band,” he said. “It does feel quite amazing knowing that I am one of the few freshmen in the wind ensemble, and [it] makes me excited for my future in music.”

At a recent concert, the YSU Wind Ensemble welcomed two local high school bands to play their Ohio Music Education Association Contest pieces. Students also played John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” with select members of the wind ensemble.

Freshman trombone player Tony Colella said music was his only choice.

“I did not pick music; it picked me,” he said. “It can be brutal at times, but to be able to sit down each day and make music with some of the finest players I know is remarkable.”

Colella added that for 50 minutes each day, he is lucky enough to forget everything wrong in the world, and focus on all that is right.

Like Colella, Flaugher said she’s “always had this love and connection to music.”

“I remember when I was little, I would be messing with different instruments, like the piano my family had or just banging on pots and pans,” she said, adding that she enjoys playing her music for others and making people smile when she plays. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

At the beginning of each semester, the YSU Wind Ensemble holds auditions. A few weeks ago, the Dana School of Music held its annual fall audition day for incoming students.

Wang said the school had a terrific turnout of more than 80 students.

“It is important for these young aspiring students to come and audition, because they can truly learn about the wonderful atmosphere here at Dana,” she said. “It is also a great opportunity for them to share their talent and accomplishments with us.”