A recap of FGCU’s Symphonic Band concert
The theme of the April 26 Symphonic Band concert was “Breaking Barriers,” and as Director Troy Jones pointed out before the intermission, that theme fit Florida Gulf Coast University’s music program well.
When Jones introduced Clifton Williams’ “Dedicatory Overture,” he observed that the piece was on his first music program as a director at FGCU in 2009. The changes between now and then “speak to the growth of the music program and this ensemble,” Jones said.
According to Rod Chesnutt, Ph.D., head of instrumental studies, the music program has grown every year since it began in 2006.
“We started with 23 majors and now we have a little over 150,” Chesnutt said.
In 2006, the music program had five faculty members. Now it has 11 full-time faculty and 20 adjuncts. Bower has also been able to expand the number of ensembles it offers, from one symphonic band to five large ensembles and many smaller ensembles.
“The more students we have engaged with it, the more we are able to provide what they want,” Chesnutt said.
A lot of students who participate in the ensembles are not music majors, which Chesnutt says speaks to the approachability of the music program.
“We love having them in the ensembles — it’s one of the reasons ensembles exist,” Chesnutt said. “Probably about three-quarters of our symphonic band and basketball band are non-majors.”
Because of the relatively small size of Bower’s music program, students are given opportunities that they may not receive at a larger program. For example, each spring the top two students from the instrumental conducting course are chosen to conduct a piece at either the symphonic band or wind orchestra concert.
This year, music education majors Josh Walkuski and Alex MacDonald were chosen for those spots.
“They got to program the work and rehearse the work,” Chesnutt said. He says opportunities such as that one are “kind of why we’re here.”
“I went to Florida State and I’ve taught at the University of Nebraska, so I know what large universities do,” Chesnutt said. “Because we are undergraduate-focused, our music majors get a lot of performance opportunities that they would not get at a larger university.”
Chesnutt is proud of the music program, but in the future he would like to expand the concert band and the jazz ensemble.
Because there is not a large concert auditorium on campus, FGCU’s larger ensembles frequently perform at Palmetto Ridge High School and Lamb of God Church. Chesnutt hopes that an on-campus concert hall is in the music program’s future.
“It’s in the master plan, but we need enough funding,” Chesnutt said.