The University of Maryland Wind Orchestra was founded in 2008 to give advanced undergraduate, MM and DMA performance students the opportunity to participate in a professional caliber ensemble with the intent of furthering their preparation as professional orchestral and chamber music performers.
UMWO is committed to the idea that chamber music is central to all ensemble performance, and it embraces the ethos of chamber music even in large ensemble contexts.
UMWO regularly incorporates string, keyboard and vocal performers. In addition to expanding repertoire possibilities, UMWO seeks to create a “next-generation” of string, keyboard and vocal performers who embrace the wind ensemble as a vital and integral part of their musical world.
Since its inception, UMWO has performed in side-by-side collaborations with major professional ensembles such as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Eighth Blackbird and the Imani Winds, has been invited to perform at international, national and regional conferences, and has been active in commissioning and premiering new works for winds.
All wind, brass, and percussion players rotate between the UM Wind Orchestra and the UM Symphony Orchestra by concert period, placing constantly shifting demands on our musicians every four weeks and inspiring the development of skills that serve them best in a variety of musical situations.
The University of Maryland Wind Orchestra and the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra) are led with a shared vision and with close collaboration in programming, personnel assignment and concert-giving:
1. We believe there is no difference between playing chamber music, playing in orchestra, and playing in an ensemble of winds except the number of people around you.
2. We believe every concert must be a simultaneous celebration of the past and of the future.
These core beliefs have influenced every aspect of our large ensemble program including what we play, why we rehearse, how we define the symbiotic roles of conductor and player, and how we give concerts:
1. We believe that music-making in all ensemble settings requires the same essential skills of active listening and co-shaping that characterizes great chamber music-making. We believe in leading while following and following while leading—not just for our players but also for ourselves as leaders of players.
2. We believe in the conductor-less large ensemble experience.
3. We believe in encouraging active verbal input from players throughout the rehearsal process and in soliciting their ideas for programming future seasons.
4. We believe in mixing the skill levels of our players for maximum educational benefits, and in the primacy of process—i.e. that good rehearsals are their own reward.
5. We believe in challenging the musical status quo by asking questions like: What exists in a concert that people should want to come to it? What is it about the ritual of concerts that may keep people from wanting to come? How can we enhance the impact of the music we play? What forms might concerts take 50 years from now? What is good music of any genre—and why does music of different genres so rarely appear together on concerts? Beyond playing the notes well, what might be asked of young musicians to help build the kind of musical life they would want to inhabit?
Our concerts are our attempts at responses to these questions.
Michael Votta, Jr.
Director of Bands