In the fall of 1999, Mrs. Holsinger and I move to Cleveland TN to plan establish the inaugural “new” concert band at Lee University. Our task was to form a Concert equivalent of the Lee Symphonic Band, an organization that had been in existence for 25+ years prior to our arrival. The concept hoped for was a serious wind ensemble that would add to the reputation of the school.
The term, “Wind Ensemble” had been decided upon prior to my arrival.
I explained that the concept of “wind ensemble” was a smaller group than the typical 65 to 80 piece Symphonic Band they were used to. I also explained, that this ensemble would have fewer, but strictly auditioned members. That concept was a bit more difficult to sell. The desired concept SUGGESTED at the time was to have the SAME band twice over. Just playing different music. (And as far as I was concerned, far more difficult music.)
Within a couple of years the dust settled. I think perhaps playing Del Joio’s “Fantasy on a Theme by Haydn and the Giannini “Symphony #3” among the other somewhat difficult pieces on the first concert in the fall of 1999 somewhat whittled the group down from 72 to 48 by second semester. Plus presented the kids with a new vision for performance. Plus, I immediately changed the appearance of the new ensemble from sports coats and Sunday dresses, to Tuxedos and black concert dresses.
By second semester my wife, with degrees in music ed from Central Missouri State and Conducting from North Texas State joined our faculty as Director of Special Projects and Associate Conductor of the Wind Ensemble. There was some fluctuation in numbers the first two years but the ensemble eventually settled I on a tightly audition group of 43 to 48 members. In 2015 when I suffered the stroke returning home from New Orleans, Mrs. Holsinger’s Assistance became incredible in the Course of the wind ensemble. Because my left arm was totally incapable of turning pages, for the last eight years she has sat in front of the podium at each concert and rehearsal turning the pages of my scores.
I am incredibly thankful for her servant’s heart.
There has been a few years where the ensemble ballooned up, usually because of percussion needs, but for the most part, we have stabilized most years 48 t0 52 members. Obviously not a typical textbook wind ensemble.
Not sure I ever read the textbook!
PROGRAM BIO FOR WINONA GRAY HOLSINGER, CONDUCTOR AND TEACHER (RETIRED)
Winona Holsinger, Director of Instrumental Projects and Associate Conductor of the wind ensemble at Lee University. A native of Missouri, Mrs. Holsinger, completed her undergraduate work in Music Education, both instrumental and vocal certification, at the University of Central Missouri. Her graduate degree in Instrumental Conducting was earned from the University of North Texas.
Mrs. Holsinger has teaching experience in vocal and instrumental music at both public and private elementary and secondary school levels in Missouri, Kansas and Texas. For six years, Mrs. Holsinger was also the Assistant Conductor of the Irving, Texas, Community Adult Concert Band. She has also served as honor band or band camp clinician in Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas, and Georgia.
At Lee University, Mrs. Holsinger taught String Techniques and the Fundamentals of Conducting classes. She was also the administrator for the Lee University Honor Band, an annual event which involves 85-90 selected high school wind and percussion students.. Additional responsibilities include the administration of the instrument holdings of the School of Music, the instrumental music library, and the instrumental needs of various campus events.