GVSU Symphonic Wind Ensemble performs in Haas Center

Tasman Mattox

The Haas Center for Performing Arts was host to the Symphonic Wind Ensemble’s concert on Friday, Dec. 8., for the enjoyment of the Grand Valley State University community. The musicians played a variety of pieces to showcase the nationally recognized group. 

The ensemble is part of GVSU’s music program for undergraduates. 

“At Grand Valley, it’s a smaller department,” said Amy Zuidema, a clarinetist. “We can really get to know each other better and make the best of the ensembles. It’s also an undergraduate-based program, so you have more opportunities to play and perform.”

The experience can be daunting for students at the start, but members of the ensemble say it is an ultimately rewarding experience.

“In my case, coming from a small-town high school, the environment is really different here,” said Jacob Bleeker, a fellow clarinetist. “The expectations are really high, and everybody just comes in and knows their part and just plays and makes really nice music.”

Each student in the music department at GVSU gets the opportunity to perform in a group.

“We’re performance majors, but even if you were an education major, having an ensemble is part of the requirement,” Zuidema said. “It’s such an excellent group that you’d want to be a part of it. You learn so much from Dr. Tutt; he’s a really great teacher. He not only conducts really well, but he pushes us to be the best he can be.”

Kevin Tutt is the conductor of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and Bleeker and Zuidema said he has many wise words that have impacted all of the students.

“He’s said that if at least one person doesn’t come in and have their life changed, we haven’t done our jobs,” Bleeker said. “If someone is having a rough time, our responsibility is to take their mind off of that.” 

Bleeker thinks he has improved a lot from working with the Symphonic Wind Ensemble. 

“It’s just made me better playing with a group,” he said. “Playing as a soloist is different. Here, you really have to think about intonation, style and matching with the section.”

The students agree that music itself is highly impactful no matter who you are.

“Music goes beyond what you could do in different disciplines because it’s such an emotional thing but also mentally stimulating,” Zuidema said. “To be able to do that working so hard together with a group of people, … you’ll never be able to sit down with that group of people again. It will never be the same as it is in that moment.”

The impact of the group on students shows in the emotion with which they play, and Zuidema said it really is a team effort. 

“Everyone wants to help,” Zuidema said. “We, as a group, can get better and make each other better.”