The Wind Orchestra of FGCU’s Bower School of Music & the Arts has been invited to perform at New York’s renowned Carnegie Hall and has begun fundraising to help the musicians pay for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
One of several student music ensembles at FGCU, the Wind Orchestra is composed of the university’s finest wind and percussion instrumentalists, who are selected by audition. They will perform on Friday, Nov. 27 in the Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage as part of Carnegie Hall’s Debut Series. With five curvilinear levels that seat 2,804, the auditorium is the hall’s largest performance space and has been presenting the world’s premier artists since 1891.
In advance of its Carnegie debut, the 51-member orchestra will play a concert Sunday, Nov. 8 at Artis-Naples. Tickets are $15 at artisnaples.org and proceeds will help fund the New York trip, which is estimated to cost $95,000 for travel, food and lodging for three nights.
Because the opportunity has educational value for students and enables the university to showcase its finest on a national scale, the FGCU Foundation has earmarked funds to help with the cost of this unbudgeted expense. The foundation also encourages community members to support the orchestra’s trip through a crowd-funding website at https://nxtapp.cause.it/fgcu. Contributions also can be mailed to: FGCU Foundation, 10501 FGCU Blvd., Fort Myers, 33965. Call (239) 590-1067 for more information about giving.
The Manhattan Chorale & Chamber Orchestra, which will share the concert program, invited FGCU after requesting the orchestra’s first commercially released CD, “Introductions,” as well as a recorded performance from the 2015 Florida Music Educators Association Conference.
“Apparently, these created a buzz within the profession,” says Dr. Rod Chesnutt, Wind Orchestra conductor and head of instrumental studies at FGCU. “I am proud that we were selected for this series. We were competing with ensembles from around the country for this coveted spot. It reflects well on the university and on the development of the Bower School of Music & the Arts.”
The concert marks the first time an FGCU music ensemble will perform at Carnegie Hall and follows other recent achievements that reflect the school’s growth and success as well as the breadth and depth of its programs, according to Director Dr. Cathy Albergo. Priscila Navarro, an international prize-winning pianist who graduated in 2015, played a solo recital at Carnegie in March 2013. The Chamber Singers were invited to perform at the Florida Music Educators Association Conference and had a successful European choir tour in 2014.
“All of these recent performances, coupled with the Carnegie invitation, show the quality of the students and the faculty in the Bower School of Music & the Arts,” Albergo says. “We are excited about this opportunity and the level of support shown by the university and the community.”
The excitement is shared by the orchestra’s young musicians, who will gain priceless experience and prestige from playing in one of the world’s most recognized concert halls. Wind Orchestra Librarian Brianna Blount, who plays flute and piccolo, has never visited The Big Apple. She’s eager to see the city and take in a Broadway show, which is part of the group’s itinerary.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for any musician to play at Carnegie Hall,” said the junior music education major from Sarasota. “We really owe it to Wind Orchestra members of the past who helped get us to this point and to Dr. Chesnutt, who has built this program from the ground up. We’re stepping up and showing Florida and New York what we’re made of. It’ll be an experience we will take with us the rest of our lives.”
The New York concert will feature “American Fanfare” by James Stephenson; “Dionysiaques” by Florent Schmitt; “Pacem: A Hymn for Peace” by Robert Spittal; and “Jug Blues and Fat Pickn’” by Don Freund. FGCU Assistant Director of Bands Troy Jones also will guest conduct “Turbulence for Tuba and Winds” by Bruce Broughton.
Several of these works will be performed during the Artis-Naples concerts. The Wind Orchestra will perform a third concert there on April 24, and FGCU will reciprocate by presenting chamber ensembles from The Naples Philharmonic in three concerts at U. Tobe Recital Hall this year.