The University of Delaware Wind Ensemble
is in the final stages of preparation for an overseas performance of a
lifetime as members prepare to travel to Taipei, Taiwan, to participate
as special guest performers at the 2015 Taiwan Clinic: An International
Band and Orchestra Conference.
The Taiwan Clinic, which is set to take place April 25-26, features
performances by wind bands from across the Asian continent, as well
special guest performances by ensembles spanning the globe.
The UD Wind Ensemble, made up of 51 students under the direction of
Chad Nicholson, assistant professor of music, was selected for this
year’s special guest ensemble over a year ago. The ensemble will perform
through the clinic as representatives of American band culture and
“Our real responsibility as performers at this clinic is to represent
what we, as an American wind band, can be,” says Nicholson. “We’re
traveling not only to observe what band can be in other cultures but
also to demonstrate the value that we give to band and music in American
culture, as well.”
Nicholson, who has received degrees in music from the University of
Oklahoma (bachelor’s in music education), New Mexico State University
(master’s in wind conducting) and Indiana University (doctorate in wind
conducting), is in just his third year as a member of the faculty at
In addition to directing the UD Wind Ensemble, he also teaches
instrumental conducting to graduate and undergraduate students in the
Department of Music.
Nicholson’s tireless work with the Wind Ensemble has brought great
acclaim and an outstanding reputation. Under his direction, the Wind
Ensemble has had the honor of touring in guest performances along the
East Coast and the privilege of performing world premieres of new pieces
for wind band, and has been honored to have visits from esteemed guest
conductors and composers.
Michael D’Avino, the Wind Ensemble’s graduate assistant conductor,
can’t contain his excitement for the upcoming voyage to Taiwan. “I’ve
been looking forward to this, ever since the idea was thrown around last
year, and I’m completely excited to be a part of this,” he says.
D’Avino is a second-year graduate student at UD, where he studies
wind conducting under Nicholson’s instruction. As he spends much of his
time with Nicholson, he was a part of the inner circle during the Taiwan
Clinic application process, which involved submitting performance
recordings of the ensemble as well as a biography and personal resume of
Nicholson himself. Despite the odds of being selected from countless
ensembles across the globe, D’Avino had complete faith and confidence in
“He is an absolutely incredible band director. He cares about each of
his students, and to say that he is passionate and enthusiastic about
music and teaching would be an understatement,” said D’Avino. “I could
not ask for a better teacher, mentor and friend.”
Michael Swiren, a first-year graduate student who studies wind
conducting under Nicholson, could not agree more. Swiren performed under
Nicholson in the Wind Ensemble during his undergraduate career at UD,
where he graduated last May with a bachelor’s degree in music education,
tuba concentration. When he was looking into graduate schools, Swiren
could only think of one person he wanted to study with.
“Without a doubt, Nicholson is the reason why I’m here,” he says.
iren, who will also accompany the Wind Ensemble on their voyage to
Taiwan, describes Nicholson as being a charismatic and inspiring
individual who always pushes his students to be at their best. Hoping to
be a music teacher in public schools one day, Swiren says he believes
that this experience will help him to see the impact of band in other
cultures, which he can help apply to his career.
A performance of a lifetime, an impact forever
For the Wind Ensemble’s performances in Taiwan, the musical
repertoire allows for alternating moments of excitement, beauty and
energy between contrasting works. From a highly energetic and
articulated opening piece, to a soothing and beautiful chorale, and
finished by a surprise encore reminiscent of bright jazz melodies, each
section of the ensemble is able to show their musical capabilities over
the course of the performance.
“The repertoire is difficult,” says trombonist Andrew Roberts, “but
we’re up to the challenge and it will be a great showcase to introduce
us to audiences overseas.”
Roberts, a first-year graduate student who studies trombone
performance, is looking forward to the experience that will come from
the Taiwan Clinic, which will include his first time traveling outside
of the United States. “Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter where we
perform. Our end goal is always the same -- to create an awesome musical
product that we’re proud of, and share that product with others,” he
Josh Baker, a junior music education major who plays euphonium in the
Wind Ensemble, is looking forward not only to the performance but also
the future impact that being at this clinic will have on his career
path. “We’re getting the chance of a lifetime, to witness a wider world
of music. It’s going to be a real eye-opening experience, and one I hope
helps me to evolve as a future music educator,” he says.
Nicholson knows that each student will leave Taiwan with something
important to use in their futures as musicians and as educators. “What I
hope that they all take away from this experience is that music is all
about connecting and communicating with others,” he says smiling. He
also adds his desire for his students to understand the ways other
cultures make, respect, and celebrate music.
After the UD Wind Ensemble’s Taiwan performances in April, the
ensemble will return to Newark to put on their final concert of the
semester, which will take place at 3 p.m., Saturday, May 9, at the
Roselle Center for the Arts.