Smith Ensembles Start the Year with Music

Emily Wilson ‘17
Contributing Writer

Smith has some incredible music ensembles, some of which are directly related to the music department, while others are student-led organizations. I recently got in touch with members of the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble and the Smith Ukes to see what they love about their ensemble and how being a part of an ensemble adds to their Smith experience.

Wind Ensemble:

Emily Matz ’18 plays flute and piccolo and is the vice chair of the wind ensemble. As an Engineering and Music double major, Matz says that being in a music ensemble “contributes to [her] involvement with the Music department, but [also] is just a fun way to de-stress and focus on something that isn’t schoolwork.”

Matz has been playing the flute since they were nine years old and wanted to continue playing in college. “The wind ensemble plays all sorts of music. In the past, we have played classical music including Handel and Smetana, show tunes, and popular music including The Beatles and Green Day.”

“I love music, so simply playing and being in rehearsals makes me really happy,” Matz  said. “Being able to play with other people who are passionate about music makes it even more fun! Also, our director, Ellen Redman, makes sure that there is never a dull moment.”

Matz is also a member of the music department-associated Groove A Cappella and the Gamelan Ensemble. “Let’s all find a little musical joy in our lives!” Matz said.

The Wind Ensemble rehearses on Monday nights from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Sweeney Concert Hall.

Smith Ukes:

President of Smith Ukes, Quincy Dean Slobod ’17 joined the organization her first year to sing, play ukulele and jam with people. She is a Medieval Studies major and Book Studies concentrator. Being in an ensemble allows her to make music a part of her life at Smith.

“It’s something I get to do every single day, without adding the pressures and requirements of an academic track.” She went on to say, “Singing Lady Lamb’s ‘Apple’ with the Smith Ukes really does just make all the pages and pages of reading and writing ever looming over me just melt away.”

Anyone can join Smith Ukes. The Josten Performing Arts Library loans out ukuleles and the members of the ensemble can teach beginners and help them “grow as musicians in a supportive and music loving environment.”

“We play pretty much anything our members want to! Our repertoire ranges from The Beatles, to Julia Nunes, to Elvis, to the Indigo Girls and lots more.”

“Singing and playing music with others is one of my absolute favorite things,” Slobod  said. “Without it, my life would be so much emptier and lose so much meaning. For me being in ensembles has really defined my Smith experience; it is just such a wonderful feeling to make music with people who love it just as much as I do.”

Smith Ukes rehearses in the Campus Center once or twice a week for about an hour.

“Come jam with us!” Slobod said.

Jazz Ensemble:

Lisa Utzig ‘18 is co-president of the Jazz Ensemble and plays percussion in the group. Her main instrument is the piano. She loves jamming and playing jazz in small combos with other musicians on campus, “so [she] pretty much play[s] jazz whenever [she] can.”

Utzig was in a jazz band in high school, and when she came to college she wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue. “I had pretty much made up my mind I wasn’t going to do it, but then I got dropped from the waitlist of a lot of my classes first year. So on a whim to cheer myself up, I decided I might as well go to the first meeting and check it out. Best decision of my college career so far,” said Utzig.

Jazz Ensemble is a very relaxed and loving community. “Even though we are serious about jazz,” said Utzig, “we are not necessarily serious people, and we love to joke around with each other and have fun while we play.”

Megan Wancura ‘17 plays the tenor saxophone in the group and says that ”being in Jazz Ensemble has kept music in [her] life in a collaborative way — [it] is a great break from lab work!”

She’d been in ensembles since fifth grade, and since jazz had always been her favorite kind of music to play, she decided to join the jazz ensemble when she came to Smith.

“Our ensemble is very much about enjoying the music we play,” said Wancura.  “Anyone can take a solo if they want, and we focus on having fun.”

Smith Jazz Ensemble rehearses Wednesdays, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Earle Recital Hall in the basement of Sage Hall. You can follow them on Instagram @smithcollegejazz.

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