Local musical ensemble the East Texas Chamber Winds will be hosting their Winter Concert at 6 p.m. Jan. 1 in the Mast Hall.
The East Texas Chamber Winds perform in the Harmoniemusik style. This style includes famous composers like Mozart and Haydn and is typically written for ensembles of 8-16 performers. Many of the performers in the ensemble are SFA alumni and current students.
“Harmoniemusik started roughly in the 1700s as background music for royal courts,” Artistic Director and Conductor Roy McLerran said. “Anything they played would be light music for background purposes.”
The ensemble’s repertoire for their upcoming concert includes Dvorak’s “Serenade in D Minor Opus 43,” transcriptions of various Debussey piano preludes and selections from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”
The Harmoniemusik style is part of what makes the Chamber Winds unique. The style requires a high level of musicianship to perform, so Harmoniemusik isn’t performed often in high school and collegiate concert bands. This heavily contributed to why McLerran, who founded the ensemble, chose to focus on this style.
“The music isn’t performed very often, and it’s great music performed by great musicians,” McLerran said. “This type of thing is picking up. I got the idea from a friend who started one in Maryland. Because of this, there was one started by a former professor of SFA in San Antonio.”
The group typically rehearses for two days prior to the concert, and performers are required to learn their music proficiently months before the concert. McLerran keeps this in mind when looking for musicians to join the group.
“When I go to SFA asking for players, it’s with the understanding that these students need to know what they’re doing,” McLerran said.
Currently, the ensemble has SFA students playing French horn, cello and bass. Many of the ensemble’s members have stayed for at least two years, while some have been with the group for over five. According to McLerran, the ensemble performing for the upcoming concert consists solely of musicians who’ve played with the group at least three times.
“It’s held together by friendship. All of us love music, we love this music, and we love playing together. We’re not necessarily doing it for the money,” McLerran said.
Chamber ensemble concerts typically charge for entry, but the Chamber Winds keeps their concerts free.
“We try to offer [the concert] for free so that the Nacogdoches community can have access to that kind of music and that kind of culture,” Marina McLerran, a clarinetist and public relations director for the group, said. “One of the goals long-term is to bring some sort of educational element into thing and start getting the kids involved.”
Most of the ensemble members still direct bands in the East Texas region. The ensemble has previously played at the Texas Music Educators Association, as well as several award shows. They hope to return to TMEA within the next few years.
The ensemble has grown in following since its inception six years ago. The group, which initially began as friends wanting to play their instruments together, now hosts multiple concerts a year, and has expanded their audience significantly.
“It’s a much bigger community of support,” Marina McLerran said. “Now, we have our audience members that come to every concert no matter what.”
The musicians of the ensemble are highly talented. Marina McLerran said she recounts a time when the lights shut off at the performance venue and the group continued to play.
“We were playing Mozart, and without having to communicate, we knew what to do,” Marina McLerran said.
If you are unable to make it to the upcoming new year’s concert, the performance will be recorded and uploaded to the East Texas Chamber Winds’ website after the concert.