2015 Fall Newsletter

Message from the Chair

W. Terrence SpillerThe Free Dictionary defines music as “the art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified and evocative composition.” I have spent the bulk of my adult life — as well as much of my adolescence — in pursuit of this art. This quest has been enjoyable, rewarding, challenging, frustrating and educational. However, there is something odd, almost out of place in today’s commodified world, about devoting one’s career to something intangible, which exists only “in time.” Fortunately, the benefits that music can offer are substantial.

A curious feature of music’s rewards is that they are limitless. If we share a sandwich with a friend, we each get half a sandwich. But music expands and flourishes when we share it. We do not “possess” music; instead, we are conduits for it. In that sense, music is inherently social, whether we are listening to music at a concert or if we are the people making the music come to life. Both of these activities are fun! I don’t think that it’s a mistake that in English (as in German) we refer to instrumentalists as “playing” music. There is something inherently joyous, almost childlike, in the act of making music with others, in front of others.

We’ll have a special opportunity in early March 2016 to experience an international version of this musical “sharing” in the Performing Arts Center when Cal Poly hosts the California Wind Band Festival, part of the 82nd annual American Bandmasters Association Conference, a joint endeavor with the Japanese Bandmasters Association. I admit that my command of Japanese is nonexistent, but this gathering of performers from around the world will prove the truth of Herbie Hancock’s declaration: “Music happens to be an art form that transcends language.”

W. Terrence Spiller, Chair