TCNJ Wind Ensemble’s Trip to the CBDNA by Andrew Unger

As part of the TCNJ Wind Ensemble, Music major Andrew Unger traveled to Boston for the College Band Director’s National Association (CBDNA) Eastern Division Conference. Read more about his impressions of this three-day conference and of the TCNJ Wind Ensemble’s performances!

In the first week of March, the TCNJ Wind Ensemble made a three-day trip to Boston to perform at the College Band Director’s National Association Eastern Division Conference. In attendance were prominent band directors from around the country, while musicians of all stripes joined to contribute to the interdisciplinary program.

On the first day of our journey, the bitter cold could not distract us from giving a powerhouse preview performance at JP Stevens High School. We swiftly set up shop on the stage of the school’s auditorium, including a hub of electronics equipment and an extensive battery of percussion instruments, and presented Pulse for a large and appreciative audience.

Professor David Vickerman and TCNJ Wind Ensemble

Professor David Vickerman and TCNJ Wind Ensemble

The first event of our first morning in Boston was a presentation at the New England Conservatory on the beginnings of the Third Stream Revolution. The discussion featured Gunther Schuller and David Amram, two extremely important composers and horn players who are well known for their proficiency as both classical and jazz musicians. To hear these legends of 20th century music speak was as inspirational as it was awe-inspiring. Clearly young at heart, they both shared their early experiences as professional musicians and the difficulties and ridicule that they faced as interdisciplinary musicians.

I was so moved by David Amram’s passionate humanist sentiments that I decided to stay behind after the talk to introduce myself. I am typically hilariously clumsy in these social situations, but in this case I was unusually nervous. I fidgeted just a few yards away from Amram and a group of his friends for what seemed like hours as I attempted to work up the courage to speak to this living legend.

Once I finally approached him, his warm smile and kind words completely disarmed me. I could hardly speak, and my few stammering utterances, “thank you,” “advice,” and “scared,” were buried by his sincerity and willingness to calm my nerves. To meet such a prominent musician who had had the same insecurities and uncertainties that I have when he was my age re-instilled a long-lost feeling of hope in me. By the time he had dumped four of his inscribed CDs in my hands and firmly patted me on the back, I realized that we were the only two people left in the hall.

Thanking him one last time, I stumbled outside to learn that I was fifteen minutes late to pick up my horn from the bus. Had my friends not been thoughtful enough to keep my instrument safe and bring it to our next location, I might not have been able to retrieve it in time for the evening performance.

Professor David Vickerman and TCNJ Wind Ensemble

Professor David Vickerman and TCNJ Wind Ensemble

That afternoon was spent hearing the Gotham winds, attending a presentation on George Gershwin, and exploring the dining options in Boston. I was eager to get on stage. By the time I returned to our beautiful performance venue, the Fenway Center, we had learned that some musicians from the Hartt School were late, so the TCNJ Wind Ensemble was to perform first. As I warmed up for the sound check, I noticed that two composers whose music was featured on our program were present: John Mackey and Christopher Stark. It was then that the nerves began to set in; I realized that there were many prominent figures in the audience who were waiting patiently to hear us. And as I had sincerely expected, our concert was well-received and applauded vigorously. I was happy and relieved to see the smiling faces of my friends and colleagues after the performance. We were all equally impressed with Dr. Vickerman’s passionate conducting and the masterful showcase given by our faculty soloists. It was a job well done.

Afterwards, the Hartt School’s contemporary music group, the Foot in the Door Ensemble, gave an exciting and engaging performance of the music of composers including Ives and Andriessen. I was impressed with the cohesiveness and showmanship of the musicians. It was a chamber performance set to the utmost professional standard, and I admired especially the diversity of their program.

The next day began with a composer’s round table discussion, at which many of our faculty and students heard John Mackey speak about his approach to composition. Afterwards, looking for a change of scenery, I joined a group of close friends at the New England Aquarium. I saw a really big turtle.

On the bus ride home, it was satisfying to reflect on these incredible experiences that I shared with my classmates and professors throughout the weekend. We gave two outstanding performances, experienced the sights and sounds of the city, and heard the wisdom of some extremely renowned musicians. I am so grateful to have been a part of this exciting endeavor so close to my graduation. I will not soon forget this conference or the friends who joined me there.


Andrew Unger lets you in on great deals on professional music performance tickets!

Please welcome back our new student blogger Andrew Unger, who is about to let you in on some of the best deals for professional music performances right here in the TCNJ area! Read more about how you can even watch the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra perform on March 1st for just $10!

Andrew UngerAndrew Unger, Junior Music Major

Next Stop, Market East!

Location, location, location.

One of the many things I value about my school is its close proximity to artistically lively metropolitan areas. Music is all around us, and we have the privilege of having world-renowned orchestras, chamber groups, and soloists performing right across the pond -in New York, Philly, and even our own New Jersey- on a regular basis. Just thinking about the incredible opportunities I’ve had in the past few years sends shivers down my spine.

In the Spring of 2012, I took my little sister to the Kimmel Center to see my idol, Simon Rattle, conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra in a rendition of Brahms’ 3rd Symphony, Webern’s 6 Pieces for Orchestra, and Schumann’s Rhenish Symphony. Just last semester, I saw the principal horn of the New York Philharmonic, Phil Myers, perform chamber music alongside TCNJ’s own Dr. Tomoko Kanamaru at Symphony Space in NYC. I also shook his hand and had a lovely one-sided conversation (I was too nervous to say a word) with him backstage following the concert. Soon after, I saw one of the inaugural concerts of the new music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in a stupefying Verdi Requiem. This past January, I drove for five minutes to Trenton’s War Memorial to see an electrifying New Jersey Symphony performance of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, conducted by Jacques Lacombe. In the spring, I plan on visiting Princeton’s McCarter Theater to hear international piano soloist Mitsuko Uchida.

All of this and more is right under our noses! If you have a student ID, you can get rush tickets for as low as 8 dollars to see the Philly Orchestra. Why not?

Speaking of great deals, contact Joe Pagani at <> for information about 10 dollar tickets to see the New Jersey Symphony perform, among other things, Ravel’s orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on March 1st. If enough students participate, we will be provided with free bus transportation by the NJSO. Mark your calendar!

BLOGGER BONUS! We also asked our bloggers the following question. Check out Andrew’s response below!

What was the best or most exciting part of your winter break?

The most exciting part of my winter break was recording a rock song with a group of friends. Other than that, I enjoyed relaxing and spending time with my family.

Free live music performances on campus! Find out more from Ashley McKenna!

Interested in free live music performances and entertainment? Look no further! Ashley McKenna describes where to find the best live music right here on campus! Don’t forget to come to the Rathskeller Tuesday, October 2nd from 8-11pm to see Casey Crescenzo, the lead singer of The Dear Hunter!

Hello Arts/Comm majors!

Congratulations for surviving the first month of school! I hope everyone had a great September adjusting to their classes, attending the Activities Fair for more opportunities to get involved on campus, meeting new friends and reuniting with old ones, and partaking/attending performances and productions at TCNJ.

Most of us are spending countless hours in the library, grabbing a pumpkin spice latte for that energy pick up (if you haven’t tried it, get on that), and doing the best we can to get a sufficient night sleep.  It’s all very stressful but it is important to find healthy outlets to balance that.  I find that a great way to spend leisure time is grab dinner at the Rathskeller to watch a free music performance featured on particular nights programmed by C.UB. (College Union Board) which brings a variety of events and entertainment to TCNJ.

Now I am not a big pop-punk music fan, but I decided to check out The Dangerous Summer, a Maryland rock band who performed at the Rathskeller on Friday, September, 21st.  I never heard of this group however, I was curious to hear their music.  The Dangerous Summer consists of lead singer and bass guitarist AJ Perdomo, rhythm guitarist and background vocalist Cody Payne, lead guitarist Bryan Czap, and percussionist Tyler Minsberg.   They opened up the show with “Permanent Rain” and also played “Reaching for the Sun.”   I was surprised to see how energetic the band was as they greeted the students with enthusiasm and asked everyone to stand to the front.  Between the performance and the intimate setting, I left feeling pretty satisfied.

The Rathskeller also opened up the opportunity for student bands to perform on Friday, September 28th  also free for TCNJ students.  I thoroughly enjoyed these performances mostly because they allowed these young musicians to creatively express themselves on stage in a laid back atmosphere.  I sat in the back not only watching the student performers but also the audience singing and clapping along.  For the duration of the performance, I felt as if I was in another world: one that was stress free and I couldn’t help but put a smile on my face.   I truly encourage all aspiring musicians to participate in live shows whenever the chance approaches.

Performances held in the Rathskeller are definitely something that should not be overlooked.  I thoroughly enjoy a good live show and you can’t beat the fact that it’s right on campus in such a familiar space.  Students should be attending these performances more often.  Not only do you get the entertainment side, but it is a chance to breathe and take a break from our crazy schedules… and we all need a break every once in a while!

With that being said, come to the Rathskeller Tuesday, October 2 from 8-11pm to see Casey Crescenzo, the lead singer of The Dear Hunter who will be doing an acoustic set! Casey is known for his incredible vocals and unique musical sounds. Check out an acoustic video of him here:

New York-natives, A Great Big Pile of Leaves (featuring Matt Fazzi formerly of Taking Back Sunday), will play before Casey! Listen to their new single “Pet Mouse” here!

See you there!
BLOGGER BONUS! We also asked our bloggers the following question. Check out Ashley’s response below!

What is one surprising thing you have learned as a student in the School of the Arts and Communication?

One surprising thing I have learned as a student in the School of the Arts and Communication is the vibrant student outreach through the various organizations available for Arts and Comm students.  As a Communication studies major, there is an array of clubs/organizations to take on including The Signal, Her Campus Magazine, WTSR, Lions’ TV, Public Heath Communications Club, Lambda Pi Eta Nation Honor Society, Student Film Union, TCNJ Society for Parliamentary Debate, etc.  Being a part of these organizations not serves for students’ interest, but they are great learning opportunities to gain experience as well as leadership roles.