WIU students learn from the pros during annual Brassfest

Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 9:25 PM CST
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MACOMB (WGEM) - Sunday marked the 25th anniversary for Western Illinois University’s Brassfest.

Annually, the event is the culmination of a nationally renowned guest ensemble, WIU music students and high school students.

This year, Seven Hills Brass took the stage to wrap up the evening.

WIU trumpet professor Bruce Briney said the goal is to give students the opportunity to “pick the brains” of the professional musicians while they visit.

“I think they [students] always leave campus feeling inspired, and that’s really what’s important I think for young people to get them excited about their art and craft,” Briney said.

WIU students Dante Patterson and Kate Sanger both said they plan to become music educators after they graduate. They plan to take the lessons they’ve learned from the pros into the future.

“We’re asking them questions like ‘how are you being such a good musician? How did you get here and what can I do?” Patterson, who plays trombone, said. “When it’s off-stage and it’s one-on-one it feels very intimate and it feels personal, so I take that experience, I stick it in there [my head] and I grow with it.”

Sanger said she’s learned that mental health plays a huge role in the life of a musician.

“Making sure that you take care of your mental health as a musician, it’s so easy to be caught up in making sure that everything’s perfect, but at the end of the day we need to be human in order to play our best,” Sanger said.

Visiting high school students also got the chance to play along with Western students during a “masterclass.”

Q&A sessions were also a part of the agenda.

Briney said the money raised at each year’s Brassfest goes towards bringing a new guest ensemble to campus the following year.

In the past, Briney said the American Brass Quintet and the Dallas Brass have performed at the event.

“It’s serviced our program in so many different ways on so many levels,” Briney added.

To view Brassfest 2023, click here.

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