The Virginia Tech Symphonic Wind Ensemble will travel to Carnegie Hall to perform for the New York International Music Festival this April, but not without the support of local businesses and a Kickstarter online donation campaign.
The Symphonic Wind Ensemble performed at the Kennedy Center in 2011 under an organization called World Projects, who also puts on the New York International Music Festival every year as well as several other music festivals in different venues.
“I believe that they saw that we are a good ensemble,” said junior Ben Lawson, president of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and saxophone player. “I would consider us miles ahead of where we were two years ago. We carry that Virginia Tech pride and show it through our music."
After receiving the invitation to play in the festival last year, the music department agreed to fund the costs associated with the performance venue at Carnegie Hall. However, students were also responsible for paying their share as well. According to Travis Cross, conductor of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and assistant professor of music, it was necessary to leave a "small component that will be up to the students to fund individually."
The Symphonic Wind Ensemble has held fundraising events at the local Buffalo Wild Wings, Frosty Parrot and Moe's and has also raised money through events like Honor Band and Bandarama, which showcase the music department.
"The local businesses have really given graciously of their venues to create opportunities for us to fundraise and we're very appreciative for that," said senior Laura Schneider, bass clarinet player and vice president of the ensemble.
Along with fundraising nights at local restaurants and contributions from Hipeak Sportswear, the group also created a page on Kickstarter, a website aimed at helping projects raise money.
"The idea behind the Kickstarter was to give those students another opportunity to raise some money to help support their participation in the trip and," Cross said. "It's been very successful."
In addition to fundraising efforts, the Elemental Winds, a smaller ensemble comprised of musicians in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, spread the word about their invitation to Carnegie Hall by performing live on 101.5 fm, a radio station in the Roanoke area.
“It's refreshing, as a music major, to see people who understand how important (the arts) are to the community as a whole,” Lawson said.
Without fundraising, it would have cost several hundred dollars for each student to be able to travel with the ensemble.
"What we're trying to do is to raise money so that the student cost is as low as humanly possible," Schneider said.
The ensemble members, along with the officers, have volunteered to help in the effort.
“It's really nice getting some of the ensemble members to volunteer (for the events), it brought all of us together and made it an ensemble effort rather than all the officers doing the work," Lawson said. "We wanted everybody to be involved. It's not about us, the officers, it's about all of us in the ensemble."
The Symphonic Wind Ensemble has been promoting the Kickstarter through social media and word of mouth.
As of yet, they have collected $1,725 in donations through Kickstarter, which is $225 more than the minimum goal of $1,500 set by the Wind Ensemble's student organization. The amount of success from the Kickstarter came unexpectedly.
"We reached our goal in five days," said Lawson, "which really shows the willingness of people to support the art community."
All 50 students in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, mostly comprised of music majors, will be able to travel to New York City for the performance.
“We wanted it to be an opportunity, so if you're a good enough musician and you make it in the ensemble, you travel with it to Carnegie Hall, we didn’t want...to turn away some of the best musicians because of a money problem," said Schneider.
Among those performing at the festival will be the Los Angeles Children's Orchestra, Calle Mayor Wind Ensemble and Tesoro Strings.
"We're really thrilled about the opportunity to go play in a world-class performance space and to go take Virginia Tech on the road," Cross said.