New band program at Saint Martin’s hits the right note
Brian Messing, Editor-in-Chief
After a 20-year hiatus, Saint Martin’s University’s band program is back. The new program, led by David Wacyk, DMA, will bring a wind ensemble to complete the trifecta of Saint Martin’s music program, along with the already existing jazz band and pep band. In his new position as Assistant Professor and Director of Bands, Wacyk brings a new passion to share with Saint Martin’s.
Wacyk comes to Saint Martin’s from the University of Maryland, where he recently finished his doctorate. He received two job offers: one from a college in Pennsylvania and the other from Saint Martin’s.
Wacyk said he was “drawn to the heart of [Saint Martin’s] and the opportunity to build something new.”
Darrel Born, Associate Professor and Chair of the Fine Arts department, was able to create Wacyk’s position with the idea that it would lead to the creation of a new band program at Saint Martin’s. At a time when many small universities are eliminating band programs, this gave Wacyk confidence about the future at Saint Martin’s. “For us [Saint Martin’s University] to say we [they] want[ed] to double our music department, was kind of a big deal. I was really encouraged by that.”
After accepting the job at Saint Martin’s, Wacyk prepared his family for the cross-country move.
“My wife and our four-year old son packed a U-Haul and drove it all the way over.”
Saint Martin’s band previously consisted of only a jazz band and a pep band. Part of Wacyk’s position involved the creation of a new band, the wind ensemble.
When asked about the differences between the different types of bands, Wacyk said “I always think of it as the wind ensemble is the meal, and the pep band and the jazz ensemble are important to programs and important experiences to provide to students. But they shouldn’t be the only food that you consume.”
Wacyk thinks that the wind ensemble will not only complete the band program at Saint Martin’s, but also the fine arts department in general.
“[Born] really wanted an instrumental equal to what he has built up in the choral realm. Trying to grow and develop the possibilities for folks who want to study instrumental music on campus.”
Creating the wind ensemble has not come without its hurdles. Currently the program does not have any of its own instruments. According to Wacyk, the College of Arts and Sciences has done a good job of providing what they can, but creating a band program in terms of equipment is quite expensive and will be a fundraising task. Additionally, Wacyk has been working with the Office of Institutional Advancement to fundraise for the program.
Saint Martin’s is also considering the construction of a new arts facility in the near future. According to Wacyk, “That will solve other problems as well. [We’re] Trying to build up the music department so that it is in alignment with other institutions that offer the degrees that we offer in music performance and music education.”
The band program is off to a quick start. The new program has already had a concert this year during family weekend, with the Saint Martin’s choir.
Wacyk called the concert “[a] big success given that it was only six weeks into the year.”
So far the wind ensemble has attracted 35 people, 17 of whom are students. The rest are professionals and community members who have come to volunteer and assist.
The wind ensemble can be taken for credit as a class, MUS 286. However, one does not have to take the course as a class to participate if the scheduling issues arise. Additionally, the music department offers all kinds of classes on other things, such as music theory, that make it a holistic program.
In the future, Wacyk plans to recruit more and more people to Saint Martin’s to pursue an education in music, “I’ll be doing a lot of outreach and recruiting from the high schools. I really want students to come and play in the band. We want as many students that want to be there to come and play, and they don’t have to be experts on their instrument. They have a place to belong.”