Through various band concerts and music events, the USD fine arts department hope to increase community involvement in the arts.
On Friday, Feb. 16 the USD symphonic and concert bands performed their spring concert in Aalfs Auditorium.
The concert was conducted by John LaCognata, director of bands, and Luis Viquez, director of orchestras. The evening began with four pieces from the concert band, and then the symphonic band played the second half of the concert with seven pieces.
The USD concert band is open to non-music majors and community members. However, the symphonic band requires students to audition each semester by playing excerpts from chosen pieces.
Since LaCognata oversees the band program, he chooses the songs that will be played by the symphonic band. Viquez said even though the two bands are separate, they often perform together.
“He selects the pieces for the symphonic band and I choose pieces that complement the ones he’s chosen,” he said.
With the Chinese New Year approaching, Viquez chose a piece titled “Spring Festival” composed by a personal friend, Chen Yi.
“She’s a Chinese American composer,” he said. “When she was living in China she was forbidden to make music, but she has still become a very famous composer.”
Viquez started playing the clarinet when he was eight. He attended a public conservatory in Costa Rica and received his bachelor degree from the University of Costa Rica.
“I started teaching clarinet when I was 16, which is something very unusual, but at 16 I was already a part-time teacher at a conservatory in Costa Rica,” Viquez said.
Viquez has been at USD for a year and a half as the director of orchestras and a clarinet professor. He said he has enjoyed his time on campus.
“I love it. It is a nice community, the students are very talented, and they always want to get involved with our events,” he said.
Although Viquez said the concerts typically have a good turnout, he said he hopes the USD fine arts program will get a bigger community following.
“If you lived in Sioux Falls or Sioux City, you would pay anywhere from $15 up to $100 for a ticket to a symphony music group,” he said. “In Vermillion, you can come to all the music events for free.”
Brittany Kolbeck, a senior music education major, played percussion in the symphonic band on Friday night. Kolbeck has played the clarinet for a year, but she has played percussion since she was a child.
“It’s kind of hereditary; my dad is a drummer,” Kolbeck said. “We found a bell kit at a garage sale, and I just taught myself. Then in middle school, I joined band.”
Donna Deloy, a junior music education major, plays flute in the symphonic band. Deloy and Kolbeck are performing together in a recital on Saturday. Deloy said she enjoys that music is not just an individual effort, but a combined effort from every student in the band.
“It is individual, but it is also a massive team effort. With the success of the band, you also gain success within yourself,” Deloy said.
Viquez said the goal of these free concerts is to showcase student talent and increase community involvement.
“Vermillion has a lot of potential for the growth of the arts, even though it’s a smaller community. I think people can find a lot of great artistic opportunities throughout the college of fine arts,” Viquez said.