Without craftsmanship, said Brahms, inspiration “is a mere reed shaken in the wind.” His clever double meaning is not lost on artists of the wind instruments, and certainly not on the exemplary ensemble that is the Charleston Wind Symphony (CWS).
Currently celebrating its first anniversary, the CWS was born with the principal goals of offering an additional performance outlet to the area’s professional musicians and music educators and fostering continued development of wind and chamber music in the region.
Given the caliber of its performers and conductors, as well as the organization’s core mission of educational outreach, it appears to be succeeding.
The CWS is the brainchild of Marshall Forrester, professor of music and director of bands at Charleston Southern University; Scott Rush, director of fine and performing arts for the Dorchester Two School District; Lanie Radecke, associate director of bands at Wando High School; and Justin Clarkson, CSU tuba professor.
The roster boasts roughly 65 professional musicians drawn from the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Charleston, the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, the Summerville Orchestra, university music professors, freelance musicians, and a number of professional music educators from the Tri-County area.
“We also include a number of area junior and senior college music students. Every portion of the Lowcountry music community is represented on our roster,” says Forrester, who also directs the South Carolina Youth Wind Symphony. “And we have several very accomplished amateurs in the group, including a dentist, a lawyer and an accountant.”
At this stage, the CWS performs only twice yearly, in September and in May, and at various venues, including the Gaillard Center. But a third performance could be in the offing, depending on the availability of its members.
“One of the reasons we are limiting our concert season is that there are many busy people involved in the CWS,” says Rush, formerly a member of the Boston Philharmonic. “Although my schedule is (likewise) demanding and diverse, conducting the talented and skillful musicians of the CWS is certainly one of the most rewarding things I get to do.”
An extensive repertoire makes up for the symphony’s infrequent productions. In addition to presenting the music of the wind band, the CWS programs a variety of works, including orchestral transcriptions, music that was originally written for voices, new music, chamber music and light classics.
Apart from their conducting duties, Forrester and Rush divide administrative chores. The former guides preparation of the music folders for the group and handles the printed programs and publicity. Rush’s responsibilities include working on personnel, concert logistics and board development. They collaborate on programming and rehearsal logistics and planning. Accomplished musicians and educators, the duo are ably suited to the task.
Because the organization has so many connections to music educators, the group is committed to drawing middle and high school music students to the concerts where many of them hear professional musicians for the first time.
“We hope to be an entry point for students who are just discovering the incredible joy of performing and listening to live instrumental music,” says Forrester, a guest conductor for Charleston Symphony Chamber Orchestra and the Summerville Orchestra. “We also want to provide an opportunity for music students in the area to see their teachers perform in a professional setting. We look forward to joint concerts and side-by-side performances in the future.”
For the latest performance dates and announcements, follow the Charleston Wind Symphony at facebook.com/charlestonwindsymphony.
Bill Thompson writes about the arts, film and books.