With a core of about 50 performers, both undergraduate and graduate, the Eastman Wind Ensemble is America’s leading wind ensemble.

The concept of the ensemble was first formulated by Frederick Fennell over 50 years ago. Becayse with his persistence and dedication, the group soon came to be known as one of the pioneering forces in the symphonic wind hand movement both here in the United States and abroad as well. Conductors have ranged from A. Clyde Roller, Donald Hunsberger and today’s conductor extraordinaire, Mark Scatterday. They have all followed the traditions established years ago by Fennell.

The EWE has continued to develop progressively with its recordings and has participated in techniques such as quadraphonic and digital recording. Since it’s founding, the EWE has premiered over 150 new works.

About 20 years ago, their album “Carnaval” was nominated for a Grammy and later came to be known in the music world among many of the other Eastman Grammy nominees over the years. They released this CD to the public a few months after the award show and were immediately placed in popular demand to tour some major cities including Montreal, Boston and New York. Some of their newest trends in recording have included adventurous tone, colors and innovative compositional techniques.

Back in February of 2002, the Eastman Wind Ensemble celebrated its 50th anniversary. Along with the festivities, the EWE was proud to realease a multi-CD set that had been recorded by Warner Brothers over the past years from multiple sessions in Japan and Rochester.

French horn player and sophomore Sheryl Hadeka has been a part of the EWE since last spring. Though freshmen and sophomores traditionally do not participate in this ensemble and instead are a part of the Eastman Wind Orchestra, Hadeka has been fortunate enough to be a part of the EWE. She has played in three of the EWE’s concerts and is the attendance taker as well as the assistant to conductor Scatterday.

“I basically help Dr. Scatterday when it comes to rehearsals and I help to make sure that things run smoothly,” Hadeka said. “It is amazing to see how much respect everyone holds for one another and Scatterday. I think this is a large part of what gives the EWE such a professional vibe.”

Not only is the Eastman Wind Ensemble a pride of the Eastman School of Music, but it is also a performance group that the Rochester community as a whole is very proud of. In the past 15 years or so, the EWE has embarked on many summer tours through Japan. Eastman Kodak Co. has pioneered and funded a number of these trips hoping that people all over the world will too appreciate the talent of the EWE.

“Everyone here is true to the music and true to the Ensemble,” Hadeka said. “It is an honor to play among so many gifted people who are a part of such strong history.”

Continuing, she said, “I have played with the Eastman Wind Orchestra and I have played with the Eastman Wind Ensemble. The biggest difference that I have come to notice is the level of maturity and not just because of an age difference, but because you can really tell how honored people are to be there and be a part of something so special and unique. Scatterday conducts, directs and is extremely courteous to his players which only promotes confidence. He would never reprimand, but would rather understand and work with each performer to the point of perfection.”

Such professionalism and dedication both today and in many years past is what has brought the EWE to this point of extreme and wonderful recognition all over the world. With ensembles such as this, it becomes more obvious as to why Eastman holds the high stature that it does.

Lewis can be reached at slewis@campustimes.org.

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