For the third time in 24 years, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble will be performing at the Kansas Music Educators Associations convention. 

“It’s a real honor for the wind ensemble to get picked for this,” said Gary Ziek, ensemble director and professor of music. “We have the prime time slot...performance time. It’s one of the two most high profile events of the whole convention, so we’re just really excited about that.” 

The ensemble had to audition and was chosen by a group of judges, Ziek said. 

In the past, the jazz band has gone multiple times, according to Ziek, who has directed the ensemble since 1995. It is easier to transport the jazz band because it has less people and finances are tight. 

The performance is open and free to the public, according to Ziek. Additionally this is a good opportunity to recruit high school students for Emporia State. 

“I think we’ve really stepped up our game in the last two years...and I think it’s really cool that we’ll get the chance to showcase that to the rest of the collegiate and secondary education community,” said Garrett VanArsdale, graduate assistant in the music department. “There will not only be hundreds of some of the most talented high school students in the area, but there will also be college band directors.” 

The ensemble has around 65 members and is composed of students from nearly every major on campus, according to Ziek. They will perform at 8 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center, 225 W Douglas Ave, in Wichita, Kansas. 

“We really only have a little over four weeks to prepare a concert,” Ziek said. “It’s been challenging, but the students are doing a great job rising to the occasion. We’re just really excited about playing.” 

The convention is an annual event to get “speakers, performers, and vendors...together to represent the best of music education throughout the state,” according to the KMEA website. 

The ensemble is also looking for another percussionist. 

“People get that misperception, ‘Well I can’t play in the band, I can’t sing in the choir if I’m not a music major.’ Nothing could be further from the truth,” Ziek said. “We’re looking for talented students. We could not function without our non-music majors. Some of my best players are...people who just love to play.” 

The ensemble will also be performing this concert in Emporia at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 in Albert Taylor Hall. They will be joined by the Emporia High School symphonic band who will play the first act and join the ESU’s band for two numbers at the end. 

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