June 4, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 67°F


A mighty (wood)wind

When senior Adrienne Baker entered the selective Wind Ensemble group this past fall, she was pleased to be given the chance to work in a more demanding musical group. She had previously been a flutist in the Symphonic and Concert bands.

Senior flutist Amy Thiemann, freshman clarinetist Erik Johnson and senior flutist Megan Postoll practice for the Wind Ensemble%u2019s upcoming tour. The group will perform its program, %u201CAn American Tapestry,%u201D in Ireland during spring break. Emma Strachman/The Ithacan

“It’s great working with a smaller ensemble,” Baker said. “You spend a lot more time on one specific thing, which, depending on the kind of person you are, can be kind of
exciting or droll.”

An all-expenses-paid musical tour of Ireland for the 50 students in Ithaca College’s Wind Ensemble during spring break is in no way droll, Baker said.

The Wind Ensemble is the fourth musical group the college has sent to Ireland. The University of Limerick in Ireland and Ithaca College created an exchange program four years ago. It was designed to create a collaborative experience between the two institutions. Faculty members from both music schools involved in the grant’s development agreed to include concert tours, which have continued even after the grant money that funded the program ran out.

The group will perform in the cities of Clonmel, Cork and Dublin during its weeklong visit in March under Stephen Peterson, professor of music. The program, titled “An American Tapestry,” will include traditional American pieces, such as “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” along with Irish music like “Irish Tune from County Derry.”
There will be a total of five performances: three evening concerts in the major cities and two noontime performances at the University of Limerick and Alexandria College in Dublin.

Baker, a double major in performance and jazz studies, said rehearsals are well underway for the planned performances.

“We have the music under our fingers, and we’re going to spend all of our time until we leave rehearsing and learning these pieces,” she said. “Once we’re in Ireland, we’re going to be very performance-based, so we’ve got to do most of the rehearsing here.”

William Pelto, associate dean of the School of Music and the trip’s main coordinator, said the students’ experiences will reach beyond their musical performances.

“The idea of this, unlike many tours, is that it won’t be one where students are just traveling nonstop and [always] performing,” Pelto said. “There [will be] time for them to see things in Ireland and to actually experience some of the land, its culture and its people, and to enjoy themselves.”

Pelto began putting together the Ireland tour last May. Along with Peterson and Arthur Ostrander, dean of the School of Music, Pelto put the logistics together, established concert dates, worked with travel agents and connected with his Irish colleagues.

“We had such success with it in terms of the travel and the students’ experiences, as well, that we decided to continue it for this fourth trip,” Pelto said.

The college has been able to fund this year’s trip with internal funds. While other music groups travel to destinations throughout the nation during the academic year, the spring break trip is the only international tour sponsored by the college.

Senior Megan Postoll, the ensemble’s principal flutist, said the tour’s pieces are difficult to perform.

“It’s hard but not impossible,” Postoll said. “The point is to show the world what our school can do. Yes it’s challenging, but I think we can handle it.”

Postoll said performing abroad is an invaluable experience, and that the group is more excited than nervous.

“I’m really looking forward to performing with the other groups and seeing how another culture performs,” Postoll said. “Listening, watching [and] being instructed by the people over there opens your eyes to something new. It’s really thrilling.”

Pelto does not know if future musical tours of Ireland will take place in the years to come.

“There is no telling,” Pelto said. “I can’t make any promises, and I can’t predict the future. Certainly we have had nothing but positive experiences from these tours, so I hope that we could continue in the future.”