As trumpeter Sean McIntyre prepares for his final performance with the UPEI Wind Symphony, he has mixed emotions.
“It’s bittersweet. I’m as excited as ever to be able to showcase the semester’s work. But I’m also sad that it will be the last time and I will miss the ensemble,” says the graduating UPEI student of the recital set for March 24 at Park Royal United Church in Charlottetown at 7:30 p.m.
And he’s not alone.
Alexandra Smith, a voice major who plays percussion with the symphony, feels “a bit sad”, but she’s excited to share with the audience the things she’s learned.
“I’ve learned so much about being part of a quality ensemble. Having to live up to expectations and rise up to the challenge of learning rhythms and more complex music has helped me in all aspects of my music career. I’ve also become a better sight reader,” says Smith, who plans to attend a voice program at the University of Toronto, get accepted into an opera program and eventually perform.
These two performing artists are among 13 graduating students in this year’s edition of the UPEI Wind Symphony.
“It’s the largest in the history of the ensemble. All of (the students) have made significant contributions to UPEI and the wind symphony, in particular, throughout their undergraduate careers,” says director Karem Simon.
As the UPEI music professor prepares students for Saturday’s recital, he is also feeling nostalgic.
“It’s bittersweet knowing that this my last opportunity to work with these good people.”
Over the years he’s enjoyed watching symphony students develop the professional attributes of ensemble performance through rigorous training.
“In their first year of study they come in rather green and, while some of them are overwhelmed at first, they soon come to understand the demands and end up meeting them. It’s rather demanding, rather challenging as we have one rehearsal a week.”
One graduating music student, Johanna Vessey, likes the training so much she is returning to the UPEI Wind Symphony in the fall.
“I’m sticking around. I like learning how to collaborate with professionals,” says the Wheatley River resident, whose future plans include finishing her science degree, working, getting married and getting a master’s degree in performance/electric music.
This professional training has prepared graduating students for the challenges in Saturday’s concert program which includes “Pansori's Rhapsody”, by Korean composer Chang Su Koh, “effervescent widgets” by Richard Drehoff Jr., Children's March: Over the Hills and Far Away” by Percy Grainger, “One Life Beautiful”, by Julie Giroux as well as additional works by Dimitri Shostakovich and Warren Benson.
As McIntyre prepares for the recital, he remembers other things that he’s learned as part of the UPEI Wind Symphony.
The first is being a team player.
“Not only do you have to depend on every other player, and the conductor, they all have to depend on you.”
The second is the value of friendship.
“Beyond simply socializing, we all face the same challenges and learn to overcome them together.
Being in this ensemble has given me another family away from home.”