October 08, 2007

Wind Ensemble selected for Carnegie Hall festival

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Music's Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Christopher Morehouse, makes its Carnegie Hall debut in March 2008 at the New York Band and Orchestra Festival.

"You can't ever downplay a venue like Carnegie Hall," Morehouse said. "It puts us on a national stage with national exposure."

Morehouse delivered the news to the ensemble just days ago. He said the group was understandably excited, especially considering how often the students hear about Carnegie Hall debuts by musicians whose names are synonymous with greatness. This is the first time in SIUC history a student musical group will play the world-famous venue, though several SIUC faculty members have had the honor.

"One of my students said, 'Now we can consider ourselves part of that history,'" he said. "I thought that was rather profound."

Morehouse explained that World Projects International Music Productions, an agency that organizes music festivals at top venues the world over, invited the SIUC Wind Ensemble to audition for the festival at Carnegie Hall. Accordingly, Morehouse sent a tape from last year's performance at the Illinois Music Educators Association All-State Conference. Within days, he got the invitation. The SIUC School of Music Wind Ensemble is one of two showcase ensembles at the festival. Six high school bands and orchestras compete during the day, and SIUC and the Northamptonshire Orchestral Wind from England perform during the evening.

SIUC performs at the 8 p.m. concert on March 26, 2008, in the Issac Stern Auditorium on the Ronald O. Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall. They have one sound check before the performance. Morehouse predicted the first note at that sound check will be an amazing experience for everyone. The auditorium, he said, seats 2,800 and "they have assured us it will be a full audience."

"The experience can't be beat," he said.

The Carnegie Hall group is 34 students and seven faculty members. The ensemble includes woodwinds and brass with percussion – what is generally considered a "band." Students will put up some money of their own for their trip. However, they welcome any and all contributions to help them with their Carnegie Hall debut. Morehouse thanked College of Liberal Arts Dean Alan C. Vaux and interim Associate Dean David DiLalla for their generosity and also for getting the word out among the University's top administrators.

"This is a phenomenal honor," Vaux said. "It's just fantastic, really incredible, and I know the students must be very excited."

Vaux said the University administration is supportive of the impending trip, noting contributions from the chancellor's and the provost's offices already, with additional funds from other administrators expected.

"We enjoyed the news for about 10 minutes and then we started to worry about how to send 34 students and seven faculty to New York City," he said. "We're at the point where we know we can do it, but there is still a lot of money to be raised."

Jeanine Wagner, interim director of the School of Music and one of the faculty members who will perform with the SIUC Wind Ensemble as a soloist, said this is her Carnegie Hall debut as well.

"For a classical musician, playing at Carnegie Hall is the equivalent of a music theater performer appearing on Broadway, or a fashion designer at a Paris fashion show," she said. "It's a really big deal – it's like going to the moon."

Wagner noted that it won't be all dreams and anticipation between now and March – there will be practices and lots of them.

"You know the old joke, 'How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice,'" she said. "There will be a lot of practicing."

To get a taste of what SIUC plans to bring to Carnegie Hall, members of the University and surrounding community can check out the SIUC Wind Ensemble at the SIUC Annual Fall Band Concert. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 at Shryock Auditorium. Tickets are $7.50 or $3 for students.

Contributions for the SIUC Wind Ensemble debut at Carnegie Hall can be made to the SIU Foundation, University Bands Fund.

Here is a list of the students and faculty who are Carnegie Hall-bound. The students are listed by the high school they attended.


Antioch Community High School: Ben Henning, tenor saxophone

Belleville East High School: Mike Dee, alto saxophone

Charleston High School: Jessica Drake, horn

Chester High School: Jim Beers, percussion

Christopher High School: Will Biby, tuba; Josh Livesay, horn; Jered Montgomery, trumpet

Dixon High School: Jonathan Poquette, trumpet

East Alton-Wood River High School: Eric Hendrickson, percussion

Galesburg High School: Mackenzie Allert, flute

Gibault Catholic High School (Waterloo): Caleb McCoy, baritone saxophone

Herrin High School: Erica Travelstead, euphonium

Marion High School: Joey Atwood, horn; David Kosmatka, soprano/alto saxophone; Aaron Moore, trumpet; Katherine Patrick, bass clarinet

Mendota High School: Bailey Ayers, euphonium

Mt. Carmel High School: Amanda Jackson, clarinet

Newton Community High School: Ken Trimble, trombone

Pinckneyville High School: Emily Plumlee, clarinet; Donovan Reese, percussion

Plainfield: Frank Cheon, clarinet

Ramsey High School: Nathan Kingery, percussion

Salem High School: Ryan Ham, trombone

Sparta High School: Robert Reed, clarinet


Northeast High School (Oakland Park): Amber Blacharski, trumpet


Interlochen Arts Academy: Paul Vincent Petrucelly, clarinet


Fergus Falls Senior High School: Joel Adams, tuba


Wilmot Union High School: Jake Vozel, trombone


Ju Me Lee, flute; Boon Kah Lim, percussion; Sunyoung Lee, piano

School of Music Faculty

Edward Benyas, oboe, English horn; Suzanne Lord, piccolo, flute; Melissa Mackey, bassoon; Eric Mandat, clarinet, bass clarinet; Jennifer Presar, horn; Jeanine Wagner, soprano