Aleasha Hintz—Staff Writer
Last semester, members of the wind symphony filed into the B.J. Haan anticipating a new batch of music for their spring semester concerts. Since the beginning of the year, these students knew that their music would be professionally recorded, sold as CDs, and published on Spotify, iTunes, and various other streaming services.
The wind symphony ensemble felt the pressure. There seemed to be so much music and too little time. They were given a whopping 66 minutes of music and only seven weeks to perfect their parts.
The wind symphony featured a wide variety of pieces. Six out of the ten songs are world premieres and will be professionally recorded for the first time by Dordt’s wind symphony. When the album is published this August, anyone who looks for the pieces will see Dordt University pop up in their search engines.
This project took a lot of preparation. Three times a week the players plopped into place and tuned their instruments, readying themselves for another 75-minute practice. On top of that, they practiced both individually and with their sections. Besides going over their parts, the ensemble had to fundraise to pay for a professional recording team.
In the end, their hard work paid off and the preview concert went beautifully. From the happy-go-lucky sounds of Spirit of Victory to the lyricism of Song for Silent Voices, this concert did it all, and the album will reflect that. High energy pieces punctured the otherwise somber song selection, which kept listeners thoroughly engaged.
The following week students spent over thirty hours recording their songs. It took many early mornings and late nights, tenacity, and mental focus to play music for such a long time in such a condensed period.
“It was exhausting, crazy, intense, exhausting,” Hannah Hansum, the principal French horn player, said. “But it was fun.”
Initially, the recording process only intended to make Dordt University known to the rest of the world. But what had started as a publicity stunt evolved into something more.
For the ensemble, the experience came second to none. The time spent practicing, the experience of professional recording, and the significance of the pieces involved all speak to the title of the album: Music with Friends.
Dr. Onsby Rose, the wind symphony’s conductor, organized the album. He chose the pieces based on relationships that he had with other composers. A friend of Rose’s wrote every work performed the night of the concert, except for Dordt University alumnus Jonathan Posthuma.
Another layer behind the album name is the ensemble itself. The experience caused the symphony to grow closer together.
“As more of a family than just friends,” Hansum said.
Even the professional recorders became friends or were friends with members of the ensemble.
The pieces themselves also carried a lot of meaning with them. Perhaps the most meaningful to this symphony is the piece written by Rose.
Originally, he wrote the song out of a fundraising need, intending to show donors that the professional recording of this album proved worthy of an investment. Since Rose did not write the song with the intent of recording, he felt uncomfortable including any of his own works on the CD.
“This project is not about me,” Rose said. “It’s about the ensemble.”
However, another composer encouraged him to continue with the work. Rose ended up finishing a piece for them to play, and the ensemble had the unique opportunity of playing a work with the composer present and conducting.
The song continued to evolve and ended up being emotionally connected to the recording process of this album, originally scheduled to be recorded last Spring. The work is called Et Rex Propter Regnum, which is Latin for “For King and Kingdom.”
It is thematically connected to Dordt’s wind symphony and Rose’s own experiences dealing with the shutdown from COVID-19. It also examines the joy that is found when trust and purpose is discovered in God.
“I am incredibly proud of how our students prepared and executed this entire project,” Rose said, “It was a whirlwind from beginning to end and is a testament to the resilience and positivity of the wind symphony.”