Arts and Living Editor
Northwestern State University’s Wind Symphony was one of the seven bands selected to perform at the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles conference in Buñol, Spain July 10-13.
This conference is an annual event where prestigious bands throughout the globe are selected to represent both their school and country in a rigorous display of musical talent.
Director of Bands Dr. Jeff Matthews said it was pretty intense performing for such a niche audience.
“You know going in the audience are very well-educated in what we’re doing,” Matthews said. “They understand the craft of making music. Most of them are directors or musicians themselves.”
The band only had one semester to prepare, workshopping pieces for concerts in the spring to be perfected for their later performance and only returning a week before departing to Buñol for final touches.
The hard work, however, paid off.
“When we finished our concert, within a few minutes everyone was on their feet, which is not something normal in Europe,” Matthews said. “When the applause is really warm you know it, and I think all of us felt it on the stage.”
The process of being chosen to be among the ensemble to perform was one of meticulous practice for Northwestern State University’s music students, who had to audition.
Paris Finkbeiner, sophomore oboe and English horn player, noted the incredible excitement and terror that came with being offered the opportunity. The happiness coming from the possible experience, and the fear coming from how it was to be paid for.
Fortunately, all fees and financial burdens were eliminated as the university covered the experience in full.
“It made it feel more like a vacation where we just happened to go play amazing music at the same time,” Finkbeiner said. “We were able to represent our university and our country and the way our cultures interacted was really fun.”
The impact of Northwestern State’s Wind Symphony and international light it offered to not only the music department but the university as a whole was particularly noted by senior flute player Darian Thompkins.
“Being there and being amongst different musicians when around the world we aren’t very known was as a great opportunity to show our face and to represent our university,” Thompkins said. “We sent out the message that Northwestern State exists, and we made a humungous dent in the music community.”