Winds of Wisconsin, the high school ensemble that performs at UW-Madison, turns 10 years old this weekend
It would be almost impossible not to be overshadowed by the staggering achievement of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras 50th anniversary last month; then again, the Winds of Wisconsin (WOW) has always been overshadowed by that marvelous institution.
But instead of saying that WOW is “only” ten years old, we should shoot off some fireworks in celebration of the group marking their decade anniversary.
The group was in its infancy when I had a student accepted into WOW some eight or nine years ago. As a band director at Abundant Life Christian School (and a lifelong clarinetist), I was thrilled to learn that there was a group like WOW for the huge number of talented wind and percussion players in area high schools. As wonderful as orchestras are, they are frustrating on a practical level for most anyone other than string players: Typically one finds only two or three of each non-string instrument in an orchestra.
But WOW is an ensemble of forty-four students, from seventeen high schools in the area. They meet five Sunday evenings each in fall and spring for their two concerts, and the next one is Sunday, March 6 at Mills Hall at 7 p.m.—and admission is free.
The group’s director is Scott Teeple, longtime professor at UW-Madison, where he leads his college wind ensemble, among other duties. Teeple has put together an almost all-American program of “Avelynn’s Lullaby” by Joel Puckett, “Baron Cimitiere’s Mambo” by Donald Grantham, “Dusk” by Steven Bryant, and Australian Percy Grainger’s “Over the Hills and Far Away.”
An additional fun feature of the group this season is what you might call its pedigree: The Rockman triplets are all involved. Robert Rockman was the eventual winner of the Madison Symphony’s Final Forte (something of an “upset” winner on marimba!), his brother Joseph plays trumpet, and Alexandra is a first-year flutist in WOW.
Do yourself a favor…spend the evening with forty of the most talented high school kids you’re likely to meet this weekend. Let’s face it—Winds of Wisconsin is possibly the only group that starts the performance as WOW, and ends with it as well. But don’t forget to leave a “bravo” or two!