South wind ensemble takes on its first Michigan music conference

Lydia McNanney '23, Business Manager

The South wind ensemble is gearing up for their performance at the annual Michigan Music Conference (MMC), which will be held in Grand Rapids on Friday, Jan. 28.

This is the first time any band from Grosse Pointe has been chosen to play at the conference. According to band director Chris Takis, this is a high honor, as only eight bands from across the state are selected to play through a highly selective blind audition process.

“(This performance) is something I’ve dreamed of doing for a while,” Takis said. “I submitted an audition in 2017, and we came close that year. In 2020 we were accepted, and it’s something that nobody in Grosse Pointe has ever done.”

According to French horn player Mara Adams ’23, the band usually has around five concerts in a given year, but none of them have an impressive viewership or are as large scale as the MMC performance.

“The MMC performance will differ from other performances because it’s not like you’re playing in front of your family and friends,” Adams said. “You’re playing in front of some of the best musicians in Michigan. It raises the bar certainly for the amount of preparation needed for this performance.”

As is common with big performances, nerves have heightened among wind ensemble members leading up to the conference, Takis said.

“We’re nervous given the magnitude of people that will be there, but a little bit of nervousness is healthy and can help us through the next few weeks of preparation,” Takis said. ”I’m feeling the same healthy nervousness that everybody else is, and I’m really excited.”

Extra preparation has been required for this performance, as the musical lineup is more difficult than usual. It consists of five pieces varying in genre and technical elements according to Adams.

“The music is definitely more challenging than usual because of the different level of performance that we’re going to,” Adams said. “Each one definitely takes a lot of practicing to work through and to make the piece sound good.”

Despite the challenging program and more daunting audience, trumpet player Seva Swanson ’22 is confident that the wind ensemble will rise to the occasion and, with a little extra tidying up, give a successful performance.

“We are about three weeks away, and definitely still have some cleaning to do when it comes to smaller technicalities that will set our performance above those we have done in the past,” Swanson said.

Takis expressed that this opportunity for South to be recognized on such a large scale is a great achievement for the members of their band and an accomplishment unlike any other in the past.

“This is probably the highest honor you can get in the state for a performing group,” Takis said. “I know our students are really excited. They’ve been working hard and practicing hard, and I’m excited to see how it goes.”