By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer
We hear a symphony…a tender melody–well, the Brass Quintet of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra, that is.
This five-person group of brass musicians of the WSO will perform a free public concert at 7 p.m. Monday, March 7 at the Robert C. Byrd High School Auditorium in Clarksburg, located at 1 Eagle Way.
The Clarkburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation is hosting the event through their “Ivory Evenings” concerts.
And in an effort to involve student musicians, the WSO Brass Quintet concert was scheduled in conjunction with when the All-County Band (grades 9, 10, 11 and 12) and Cadet Band (grades 6, 7 and 8) students could conveniently best engage with the seasoned musicians. The students will be performing their own concert the following day–Tuesday, March 8 at 7 p.m. at RCB High School.
But…back to the WSO Brass Band concert on Monday…after that concert, the student musicians will be introduced.
“These young students will be recognized at the public concert,” said Dolores Yoke, Cultural Foundation board member, past president and chair of the “Ivory Evenings” committee. “We have wonderful bands. School bands are usually a musician’s first experience with music.”
She said she hopes the community will come out and enjoy the free concert.
“Everyone is invited to share the music and salute our students,” Yoke said. “It’ll be a great way to start spring!”
The Brass Quintet features Wheeling Symphony Orchestra members: John Winkler, Principal Trumpet; Aaron Plourde, Second Trumpet; Stacie Mickens, Principal Horn; Sebastian Vera, Acting Principal Trombone; and Gary Adams, Principal Tuba.
Prior to the public Brass Quintet concert Monday, the group will perform for All-County and Cadet bands students at 4 p.m. And following that, at a Talkback session, the students will have the opportunity to have a question-and-answer discussion with the Brass Quintet members.
“It’s all part of an educational initiative to have them work with the students and have the students exposed to their expertise,” said Phil Wyatt, Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation president and retired band director, who will conduct the Cadet Band at the student concert. (Patrick Garrett of West Liberty University will conduct the All-County Band students.)
Yoke said the Cultural Foundation’s “Ivory Evenings” Committee is proud of their offerings; they have hosted 22 musical presentations from 2010 to the present!
“We are all about quality music,” she stated. “We want to work to share it with everybody -parents, students, business leaders…everyone in the community. It’s quite a collaboration. We see the arts as an economic driver as well. The Brass Quintet coming to this part of the state helps garner interest and enables us to share it with as many people as possible.”
Yoke added enthusiastically, “Plus, it’s fun! Music is fun and a happy thing to share.”
She said her all-volunteer group wants to recognize all who are supporting the arts. “We try to celebrate those who are doing it every day – from the parents, to those supplying the band uniforms – all those that help to make it happen every day.”
The WSO’s commitment to have ensemble groups perform community concerts partly came about because of inclement weather. A relentless rain storm last July at the Clarksburg Amphitheatre during a performance of WSO’s “Concert of Thanks” – the first time they had performed in Clarksburg in three years – halted the concert after only two pieces.
As a show of gratitude for the audience’s fortitude in waiting out the weather and getting drenched in the process and for the community’s support as a whole, WSO Executive Director Bruce Wheeler promised the ensemble performances to the Harrison County community.
“After all the effort that Phil Wyatt and the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation put into having us return to Clarksburg, I felt very strongly about making sure the community heard the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra before another year passed,” he stated.
Andre Raphel, WSO Music Director, echoed, “We wanted to give the Harrison County community something to show how much their loyalty matters. The orchestra and I were so looking forward to the concert at the Clarksburg Amphitheatre last summer and appreciated those who braved the rain,” he stated. “We hope these concerts by chamber ensembles from the Wheeling Symphony will function as a musical gift to the community for their support.”
There is even more music to look forward to from the WSO in Clarksburg this spring. A second concert is scheduled. The WSO String Quintet will perform Tuesday, May 24. This concert is also free and open to the public. A unique feature of this concert is that the Ivory Evenings committee is exploring the possibility of incorporating a painter into the musical performance.
“This will connect the visual arts with the music,” Yoke explains.
She added that speaking with educators of various artistic disciplines initiated the idea to have a painter on stage creating an art piece that is inspired by the concert music in real time. “What a great way to celebrate all these talented students -musicians and visual artists!” she exclaimed.
More details of this May concert will be forthcoming.