Arkansas Tech Symphonic Wind Ensemble Album Release + Q&A with Daniel A. Belongia, conductor
The wait is over! The Arkansas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble’s album is now available here at Tonsehen! This album features absolutely phenomenal, passionate performances by a dedicated group of students and the masterful direction of conductor Daniel A. Belongia. In anticipation of the album, we spoke with Dr. Belongia about the ensemble, the recording process, and the amazing works featured on the album!
Yes, recordings are a big process!
It was a joyful process because I love these terrific new pieces by James Syler and Roy Magnuson and hope that the recording will help them find the widest possible audience.
Also, the students of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble are some of my absolute favorite people!!! I cherish the recordings that I was fortunate to play on because they serve as a kind of “musical snapshot”. When I listen to them, I remember the repertoire of course, but also the spaces in which they were recorded, and most of all the brilliant people that were involved. I hope that this project serves these students and grows into something that they too will cherish for many years.
With so much phenomenal wind band literature being written by a number of amazing composers, how did you narrow your choices down and come to select these pieces by Roy Magnuson and James Syler?
Roy Magnuson and James Syler are not only brilliant composers, but dear friends. I am grateful for that, and am always eager to support their work in any way I can. Another friend and colleague, Dr. Tim Shade, built the idea of Symphony No 2 with James Syler, and I was eager to be involved in any way that I could. As the piece developed, it become obvious that it should be recorded and released immediately!
Similarly, Dr. Andrew Chybowski commissioned “the softest breath” and generously agreed to allow us to perform and record the work with Roy. Not only is my friendship and creative partnership with Roy a valued part of my life, this work’s intent - a pastiche of the music of David Maslanka - speaks to the huge influence that Dr. Maslanka’s life and music has had on both Roy and I.
What makes the Arkansas Tech University Wind Ensemble special?
The Arkansas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble is comprised of the most dedicated wind and percussion students at Arkansas Tech University.
The Tech Band program was created by Marvin Williamson in 1913, and developed into a nationally recognized tradition of excellence by Emeritus Directors of Bands Gene Witherspoon and Hal D. Cooper. Dr. Christopher Anderson created the Symphonic Wind Ensemble in 2011, and the program currently consists of six ensembles serving hundreds of students per semester.
Active in the area of commissioning new music and working closely with world renowned composers since 1950, Tech Bands have enjoyed relationships with Karel Husa, Vincent Persichetti, Francis McBeth, and continue to engage the finest composers to perform established and world premiere manuscripts. Tech wind bands have toured the country and appeared at state, regional, and national conferences of the CDBNA, ABA, ASBOA, and many others.
Alumni of Tech Bands are now teachers, performers, and professionals in and out of the field of music around the globe.
The Arkansas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble's album is available now on our store front!