FAQ

  1. What is the
    Columbia University
    Wind Ensemble?

    The Wind Ensemble consists of woodwind, brass and percussion players who perform pieces of various instrumentation and styles. It is dedicated to performing the finest original wind literature from the Renaissance to the present. The Wind Ensemble's repertoire ranges from the large military band works of Gustav Holst to the small chamber wind pieces of Mozart. To view recent programs and hear our latest recordings, see this page.

  2. Which instruments do you accept?

    The following instruments make up the standard wind ensemble:

    • Piccolo

    • Flute

    • Oboe

    • English Horn

    • Bassoon (Contrabassoon)

    • E-flat Clarinet

    • B-flat Clarinet

    • E-flat Alto Clarinet

    • Bass Clarinet

    • Contrabass Clarinet

    • Soprano Saxophone

    • Alto Saxophone

    • Tenor Saxophone

    • Baritone Saxophone (Bass Saxophone)

    • Cornet/Trumpet

    • French Horn

    • Euphonium/Baritone

    • Trombone (Bass Trombone)

    • Tuba

    • Percussion (Drums/Bells)

    • String Bass

    • Piano

    • Harp

    • Occasionally, certain pieces of music call for instruments such as the following: electric bass, banjo, accordion and string instruments (violin, viola, etc.).

  3. Does the Wind Ensemble or the Columbia Music Department have instruments that I can borrow or rent?

    Unfortunately, neither the Wind Ensemble nor the Music Department owns instruments to lend or rent.

  4. So if you have woodwind, brass and percussion instruments, and you play concert band music, aren't you a band?

    A wind ensemble differs from a concert band in several respects. Whereas traditional concert bands presented in most high schools utilize excessive part doubling, the wind ensemble purposefully attempts to maintain a smaller size with one or two players per part in many sections. Fewer musicians allows for the clarity of sound unheard in a large band and the exposure of instruments, as each has a unique timbre. In the same way that an orchestra would not use the same number and type of musicians to play Mahler's sixth symphony in playing something by Mozart or Haydn, a wind ensemble will not use the same instrumentation for a Grainger military band work as it would for Richard Strauss' Serenade for Wind Instruments, op. 7. Furthermore, the term wind ensemble promotes the fact that we are merely a group of wind players that plays good music for winds, and that we are not limited to the traditional concert band literature.

  5. How many people are in the Wind Ensemble?

    It depends on how many people audition each semester, but we typically have around 60 members in order to preserve the balance and sound of the ensemble.

  6. Who can be in the Wind Ensemble?

    Traditionally, members hail from all undergraduate and graduate divisions of Columbia University. We give priority to Columbia undergraduates because they should have the most access to a Columbia performing group. If space is available we also accept Columbia graduate students and local community members who are invaluable to attaining the proper instrumentation and reaching a high level of musicality.

    Community members should also consider joining the Columbia Summer Winds, the Wind Ensemble's summer outdoor counterpart. Columbia Summer Winds rehearses Monday nights and performs in parks throughout Manhattan during the summer. If interested, contact and check out the website.

  7. How do I join the Wind Ensemble?

    Membership is by audition. The Wind Ensemble holds scheduled auditions at the beginning of each semester. If at any time you are interested in auditioning, please email the .

    For your audition, please prepare a short section of music that best reflects your playing ability. Players will also be asked to sight-read a brief expressive passage and technical passage.

    The primary focus of the audition is to gauge the player's grasp of the fundamentals of ensemble playing, such as tone quality, rhythmic accuracy, intonation, musicality, and technical facility. The audition is also a chance for the conductor and members of the Executive Board to meet the musician and get a sense of his/her musical background and reliability.

  8. I would like to audition but I do not have anything prepared for the audition.

    You may elect to sight-read from the standard wind ensemble repertoire for your audition.

  9. How do I know if I'm good enough for the Wind Ensemble?

    There is a wide variety of talent and experience level in the group ranging from serious amateurs to professional players. You don't have to be a conservatory level player to be a member, but we expect all players to have the playing ability to handle the music competently. The players who are most successful in the ensemble are those that have studied advanced ensemble and solo literature and have done at least some playing outside of a high school band such as in honors ensembles or University ensembles.

    The competition and acceptance rates vary from semester to semester based on the number of people who audition and our current personnel needs. Seating may rotate from concert to concert, or semester to semester in order to provide the best instrumentation for the ensemble.

  10. How many concerts do you give? How often do you rehearse?

    The Wind Ensemble performs approximately four to five concerts every school year (on average, two per semester). Rehearsals are generally on Mondays from 7:30 - 9:30 PM in Lerner Hall C555 with occasional Thursday rehearsals.

  11. Are you affiliated with the Columbia Music Department?

    While the Columbia University Music Performance Program supports the Columbia University Wind Ensemble as one of the top providers of music across campus, the Wind Ensemble is officially an ABC and SGA recognized student organization. Students do not receive academic credit for participating in the ensemble.

    The Wind Ensemble is run entirely by an executive board of students consisting of a president, treasurer, secretary, personnel manager, music librarian, publicity manager, webmaster, and social chair. To view a list of the current board members, go to the Executive Board page. Every student in the Wind Ensemble is encouraged to become an officer on the Board or help with small administrative tasks. In addition, the music director encourages the members of the Wind Ensemble to suggest pieces for concert repertoire. The executive board and director work hard to meet the needs of the members and take on new challenges that will help the ensemble expand musically and socially.

  12. I love your concerts! Do you have any recordings of your concerts that I can purchase?

    Yes, we have recordings of our recent concerts. Each CD is $10 (+ $1 for shipping). If you are interested in purchasing a CD, please check out the CDs page.

  13. Whom do I contact for more information?

    Please e-mail us friendly folk at .