Wind Ensemble is comprised of the most advanced and experienced instrumentalists at Calvin. As such, this ensemble is able to assume two main musical roles: a concert band (performing traditional wind band literature) and a wind ensemble (performing contemporary pieces that require more flexible instrumentation).
This ensemble performs regularly throughout the academic year, offering major concerts each semester. Wind Ensemble also extends this musical ministry off-campus, participating in local worship services and engaging in various touring opportunities. In May 2012, Wind Ensemble spent two weeks in Central Europe, sharing the gift of music with a wide range of audiences throughout Hungary, Ukraine, and Romania. In March 2014, the group participated in a week-long performance tour throughout portions of Ohio, Tennessee, and Missouri. Wind Ensemble also went on a performance tour of Northern Germany and the Netherlands in May 2016.
Wind Ensemble membership is limited to a set instrumentation and is open to all students who meet the demands of musicianship.
Wind Ensemble rehearses Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 3:30–4:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 5:00–6:00 p.m. with Orchestra
Explore Wind Ensemble
For over 90 years, the concert band has played a vital role in the musical and spiritual life at Calvin University. The first photograph of the Calvin Band dates back to 1920, the same date when Calvin began granting BA degrees as a four-year liberal arts institution. This ensemble was comprised of 17 members, all men. The first conductor of the Calvin Band was Cornelius Schooland. Additionally, Dick Van Halsema and Henry Bruinsma were two other “first generation” Calvin Band conductors.
In 1946, Harold Geerdes joined the Calvin faculty as band director, a position he held for over 20 years. During his tenure, the Calvin Band grew in size and reputation. Professor Geerdes was the first conductor to take the ensemble off-campus, engaging in several tours throughout the Midwest. Following Professor Geerdes’ retirement, Dr. John Worst became the sixth conductor of the Calvin Band. Dr. Worst, who was also a professor of theory and composition, shared his musical leadership with the ensemble for 8 years. Cornelius Van Der Puy later followed him, working with the Calvin Band on a part-time basis for three years.
Derald De Young came to Calvin from St. Olaf College in 1978. Upon his arrival, Dr. De Young aspired to raise the standards and heighten the visibility of the Calvin Band. He engaged in recording projects, including the production of four Calvin Band CDs. Dr. De Young also reinstated touring opportunities, traveling within the surrounding region as well as to different parts of North America. For instance, the Calvin Band has completed tours in Florida, California, Washington, Colorado, and Canada. In 1991, the Calvin Band completed its first international tour on a trip to Eastern Europe where they performed in various Hungarian Reformed Churches. The Calvin Band was blessed with the financial resources and community support that allowed them to continue this particular musical ministry; they returned to Hungary in 1996 and 1999. In 2002, the Calvin Band expanded their tour to include such neighboring countries as Poland and the Czech Republic.
Dr. De Young also established several other aspects of Calvin’s concert band program. Due to increased interest in concert band at Calvin, he founded an additional ensemble, the Knollcrest Band, in 1980. Now over 35 years since its inception, this ensemble remains an integral part of Calvin’s music department. In addition to raising the artistic expectations of the ensembles through fine performances of quality repertoire, Dr. De Young also made significant contributions (musical and extra-musical) to the Calvin community. He helped to make the Calvin Band and Knollcrest Band distinctively Christian concert bands—those that collectively work to develop a deeper relationship with God, praise Him through the refinement of individual abilities, and support one another through prayer and fellowship. As conductor, Dr. De Young also instituted many beloved band traditions, including Fall Retreat, Pancake Breakfast, Christmas Pops, Cathedral Concerts, and trips to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
After 28 years of dedicated service, Dr. De Young retired from Calvin College in the spring of 2005. In a special concert, the Calvin Band premiered three pieces that were commissioned in his honor. Each piece was written by a former student of Dr. De Young from the institutions where he had taught during his career. Fred Sturm from Lawrence University (Rainier: The Mountain that was God), Timothy Mahr from St. Olaf College (Longs Peak: Mountain Prayers), and Jed Koops from Calvin College (Kilimanjaro) all contributed works for this event.
Tiffany Engle was appointed Director of Bands at Calvin College in the fall of 2005. Still in the early stages of her professional career, Dr. Engle has brought a freshness and vitality to the music-making in Calvin’s concert bands. She has sought to maintain the values and traditions of the past while challenging ensemble members to rekindle their desire for Christian community, renew their commitment to musical excellence, and realize their responsibility for making the bands at Calvin the best ensembles (spiritual, musical, and social) they can be.
Dr. Engle has further expanded upon the foundational structure of Calvin’s band program. For instance, each ensemble participates in area worship services throughout the year, while also coming together for a joint concert in the early part of the spring term. The Calvin College High School Honor Band Festival, first held in October 2006, is another “new” tradition that serves as an opportunity in which local instrumentalists can interact with a guest clinician/conductor, as well as Calvin students and faculty. Recent changes in ensemble names (Knollcrest Band is now Symphonic Band; Calvin Band is now Wind Ensemble) have further aided in promoting Calvin’s bands. These changes create greater unity in the band program and better reflect the specific nature of these ensembles all while using a language that better translates to a wider audience.
Today there are two concert ensembles (Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble), a jazz band, and an athletic band in Calvin’s program. Members of these groups are dedicated Christian musicians who recognize that all things belong to God. This awareness heightens their sense of gratitude for the many blessings that the Creator has graciously given to them. They believe that they are called to develop these talents and to constantly refine their natural skills. Thus, faith is the driving force for what they do as Christians, musicians, and ensemble members. The bands at Calvin bring together students who enjoy making music in an ensemble setting—an atmosphere conducive to artistic development, spiritual enrichment, and empowering Christian fellowship. At their core, these ensembles comprise a spiritual community, motivated by a love for God, which pursues musical excellence through meaningful, thoughtful performances of quality literature.
All interested students must complete an audition.
Scheduling is coordinated by the conductor at the beginning of each semester.
Audition requirements include:
- A prepared piece (solo or etude of contrasting styles, not to exceed six minutes in length)
- Literature excerpts (distributed by the conductor in advance)
Please visit our Ensemble Tours webpage for upcoming ensemble tours.
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