Banded together: Saint Martin’s Band and Ensemble

Taryn Zard, Staff writer

Saint Martin’s musicians are wearing special masks and playing outdoors to keep the Wind Ensemble, Saints Pep Band, Jazz Ensemble playing. 

When David Wacyk, Ph.D. was asked about what precautions they have put into place after the viral outbreak, he assured that they have been following the University and Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) guidelines for safety protocol, as well as the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA). The extra guidelines the band is abiding to are designed to mitigate the spread of aerosols from the different performers. Each player wears a special mask, and their instruments all have covers placed on them. Additionally, per the CDC’s suggestion, they have been distanced 8-10 feet from other players. Furthermore, since Kreielsheimer hall is small, the band has been fortunate to be able to practice in the Marcus Pavilion for their rehearsals in order to provide students and faculty with the suggested extra space for distancing. 

When asked about their performances, Wacyk said, “We are still performing, but like other organizations, our performances look very different than in the past.” Currently, Saint Martin’s does not have a traditional performance space. Add to that the lack of being able to bring an audience onto campus, the band is forced to rethink their idea of a “concert.” The music department has taken the restrictions and changes as an opportunity to approach music-making even more creatively. 

This fall, the department has taken on a rather significant recording project, with the hopes to make one special concert. Students have been performing at some of the beautiful locations on campus, such as the garden outside of the Abbey church, the cemetery, and other breathtaking localities. The hope for the Spring semester is that they can add more flowery locations like the meadows, and the forests to their list of venues. When asked about a song list, and how they choose what to play, Wacyk responded that, “my philosophy regarding programming, is that the music we choose to perform should be meaningful to a place, to its people and somehow be meaningful or significant to the broader world. This is a fun challenge in normal circumstances and made even harder during a pandemic.” 

Wacyk has been challenged this semester and has joyfully taken on the task of finding new, creative music and creative ways to perform the songs selected. “For our recordings in the forest and cemetery, I’ve chosen music that reflects those spaces. One of our works addresses the 200,000+ US lives lost to the pandemic, yet still celebrates the notion of their souls becoming “Celestial Bodies” the title of the work by Robert Langenfeld.” Wacyk says that at Saint Martin’s they try to approach music-making as a global issue, that reflects locally and in a meaningful way to the members of campus. Since the Saint Martin’s Band is new and only in its second year, they don’t have a lot of members. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has not helped matters. 

Despite the challenges, Wacyk is happy to announce that the Wind Ensemble has around 30 students currently and is always looking to add more. 

The Saint Martin’s Band Program consists of three groups: Wind Ensemble, Saints Pep Band, and Jazz Ensemble. The Wind Ensemble is a course that students can take, titled MUS286. Students can take this class for variable credit (1-3) to suit their needs, and the need of their degree. The practices for Wind Ensemble, MUS286, are typically from 5 to 6:20 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. However, with trying to limit the amount and duration of contact, due to COVID-19, they have been meeting for no more than 45 minutes. 

“Any student who has played a woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument is welcome to contact me (dwacyk@stmartin.edu), or go ahead and register for MUS286.” Looking to the next semester, as the current one is rapidly approaching its close, the plan is going to look similar (with the assumption that the University conducts Spring as it has this Fall). 

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