September 22, 2006
New Whitworth Concert Band a Hit with Students
When the Whitworth Concert Band was launched this fall, each of the band's 45 seats was filled by students eager to participate in a college-level instrumental ensemble. The new concert band nearly doubles the number of students in the Whitworth band program. Unlike the auditioned 50-member Whitworth Wind Symphony, which performs music that is more technically difficult and which requires a greater time commitment from students, the concert band is open to all Whitworth students without audition. However, its members must have band experience through at least their junior year of high school. The concert band rehearses once a week and will perform once each semester.
"Every year we have students audition for the wind symphony who do not make the group, and I hate to turn away students who want to play," says Richard Strauch, associate professor of music and director of the Whitworth Wind Symphony. "I never entertained the idea of starting a second band until last spring, when I realized that there were only four students graduating from the wind symphony, which was already becoming too large for the facilities and for its mission."
Strauch explored the idea of a second band with several students in the wind symphony, and their responses were enthusiastic. Strauch says one goal of the concert band is to mentor students who will join the wind symphony at some point. The inaugural Whitworth Concert Band includes many freshmen as well as several Whitworth Wind Symphony members who play second instruments in the band.
The director of the new ensemble is Kyla Fague, a 2001 Whitworth alumna who holds a degree in music education and an endorsement in mathematics. While at Whitworth, Fague played saxophone in the wind symphony, jazz band I, and a saxophone quartet, but her primary instrument was piano.
"It was serendipitous in that Kyla had recently returned to Spokane," Strauch says. "Because I had no room in my schedule to conduct another ensemble, I knew I needed to find someone else to lead this group, and Kyla seemed a natural choice: she is an outstanding musician, conductor and teacher, and she is just the kind of person we needed to work with an ensemble as diverse as the concert band."
Since graduating from Whitworth, Fague has directed an award-winning band and several jazz groups at a high school in Fairbanks, Alaska. She also taught English in China. Fague is now earning a master's degree in conducting from Southern Oregon University.
"Our goal is for the concert band to be a serious group that performs exciting, challenging literature while remaining open to the student body as a whole," Fague says.
For its first performance, the Whitworth Concert Band will perform with Whitworth's Jazz Band II on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the Hixson Union Building's Multipurpose Room at Whitworth. Admission is free. For more information, please call (509) 777-3280.
Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or firstname.lastname@example.org.