Wind Ensemble Reunion Concert at Miami

Wind Ensemble 2018 reunion concert, conducted by Gary A. Speck
Wind Ensemble 2018 reunion concert, conducted by Gary A. Speck

Current and former members totaling 140 gave a memorable performance

Current and alumni members of the Miami University Wind Ensemble came together on the afternoon of Saturday, June 9, 2018 as part of Miami's Alumni Weekend for a most memorable performance. Gary A. Speck, conductor of the ensemble, welcomed 140+ performers to present a free concert on the stage of Miami's Hall Auditorium. 

Alumni performers traveled from far away places, including an alum coming from Seoul, Korea – all to be a part of the experience. This reunion concert marked the third that the Wind Ensemble has performed over a 30-year period – the other two performances occurring in 1999 and 2011.

One of the highlights of the 2018 concert was the group’s performance of a world-premiere commissioned piece by Jack Stamp, adjunct professor of music at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

“The idea to commission a piece grew out of the 2011 reunion and was spearheaded by alumna Mindy (Melinda) Miller Burts, '95,” said Gary Speck. “Mindy worked with Miami’s Alumni office to help raise funds among MUWE alumni to have a piece written for the next reunion. This began around 2012 before the date of the next reunion was even set, and it took several tries to a find a composer who had an open spot in their schedule to do the piece. Finally, a composer was identified, and, in May of 2016, I announced the next reunion would be in the summer of 2018,” said Speck.

Former students of Gary Speck knew that he was a fan of a piece written by Jack Stamp entitled Four Maryland Songs — a setting of four poems about Maryland for soprano voice and wind ensemble. Stamp accepted the commission and ended up writing a piece called Three Ohio Songs, a setting of three poems about Ohio for soprano voice and wind ensemble, very much in the same vein as his earlier piece. The solo performer was alumna Hope Terry Ralph, '90, a voice performance major at Miami, who also played trombone in the Wind Ensemble during her student days. 

“Since they knew I had to plan to perform the piece in June, several alums, including Mindy Burts, showed up, to my surprise, at the May Wind Ensemble concert to present me with the score to the piece (publicly),” said Gary Speck. “By this time, the project had been 4 years in process (at least) and, it seems, just about everyone knew about it but me.”

Each of the MUWE reunion concerts tries to re-create, as authentically as possible, one of the campus concerts. This year’s performance was about 45-minutes in length, but instead of five or six weeks of preparation, the group rehearsed it a total of six hours on Friday evening and Saturday morning prior to the 2:00 p.m. performance on Saturday.

"It has been my great privilege to teach these people, who have been kind enough to keep me in their lives since their days as a student," said Gary Speck. "That they keep retuning to these events is a testament to our commitment to the music and to each each other across the years."