A taste of classical music at Cabrini

By Natalie Crawford
March 17, 2011

The Pennsylvania Symphonic Winds (PSW) is an electric musical orchestra that plays a range of music from stage to screen, classic and contemporary. Located just a few blocks from Cabrini College, the PSW rehearsal studio is at Valley Forge Military Academy and College. Cabrini was granted the opportunity to listen to the PSW perform this past Sunday, March 13 in the Grace Hall Atrium.

Founded in 2008 by the conductor, Philip Evans had an exceedingly specific vision in mind.

“We started in September of 2008. It was an idea conceived by myself, as I wanted a wind band in the area that played more advanced music and have it a step up from community bands. I just wanted to take it to the next level and find the best group of people I could find around who were willing to do it for free,” Philip Evans, PSW conductor, said.

Evans is originally from North Devon, England, and started his musical career at the age of 5. When he was 16 he joined a band and was drafted four times to more qualified bands. His last two years in England he was bandmaster for The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, which is known to play for the Queen of England and the Royal Family.

Evans then came to America and immediately pursued to make his vision come true of conducting an entire band of his own.

He started recruiting musicians from all around the Pennsylvania region. Recruiting 45 members at first from various local bands and orchestras.

“I joined this orchestra basically through Phil. We play in the Chester County Concert Band and several of my friends also play and he invited several of us to come join and help him start his new band. I really enjoy playing music and I enjoy having the opportunities to play music. I love playing for a very professional band with a very professional conductor and I plan on playing music for the rest of my life. We’ve played at a few children hospitals before and that was the most touching memory. Some of the children couldn’t get out of bed so they listened to us play with their doors open,” Ginny Lockwood, PSW trumpet player since 2008, said.

After prosteges rehearsals, Evans has ultimately found his unique musicians that he has been searching for.

“There’s 48 people total in the band. The progress over the years has been phenomenal. When they all came nobody had any idea what I wanted. Everyone started on a basic level. So as soon as I started to produce the music that I wanted to play, they realized that they had to step up and pick it up,” Evans said.

The PSW has been playing in the tri-state area. Mostly Pennsylvania and Delaware at concert arenas to show off their enormous talent and to promote funds to this organization.

“We do everything from in house advertising because we are a new group. It is very difficult to compete with people from huge bands around the area who’s been around for years and people know them. We have done so many concerts and the majority of them have been free of charge. We just really want people to come and hear us and realize that we can do what we say we do and produce a higher quality of music,” Evans said.

This concert did not just attract the Cabrini community to come out this Sunday, but the community in Wayne, Radnor and Philadelphia. There were more outside visitors there than Cabrini’s audience.

“It was a marvelous experience. The rythemists, the soloists, they were all excellent. I have seen them before and I will definitely see them again. I’ve seen them play at the church that I belong to. I know someone in the band that also plays the piano and trumpet. I thoroughly enjoy it. It’s an unusual concert but in a good way,” Carolyn Barker, advid PSW follower, said.

Students from Cabrini attended this concert, some for the enjoyment of the band and some for school assignments.

During the intermission of the concert, students already had their opinion of the show.

“I love music so I wanted to come here this Sunday. I think it’s fun. A lot of the music isn’t what I would normally listen to. I would see them again because this experience has had a musical impact on me. The music is upbeat. It makes me want to stand up and dance,” Alyssa Grenyer, freshmen early childhood education major, said.

“I am in the survey of music right now and it’s a requirement to come to one of two concerts. The choices were to come to this one or an opera, but I chose this one because it was more convenient for me. We have to write a one to two page paper and I figured I could do it on this one. We have to write about the comparison of what we learned in class to hearing an actual professional band play. So far it is interesting. It’s not the music I would listen to normally, so it’s definitely something different,” David Watson, freshmen elementary education and sports management minor, said.

As of the moment the band is at its maximum for players. For the ones that are in this orchestra, they plan on staying as long as the orchestra keeps playing.

“I have been playing with this group for about two years. I play saxophone, lead alto and soprano when they need it. I was playing in another group with Phil, the conductor, and he invited me to come play with this group. My favorite part of this is being able to play and have people understand what we are doing and perform for people that respect us,” Greg Thoman, saxophone player, said. “I plan on playing with this group for as long as I can. It’s a great group with a lot of good people playing good music and it’s always a challenge. I’ve always been looking for a phnominal group to get in to and this one happened to start.”

The PSW will continue to emerge into the band that it is destined to be. As their performance shows, hard work pays off and with this conductor’s dedication for his love of music, it will continue to shine through.

“I want people to know who we are and the quality that we perform at. We are not what you think we are,” Evans said.

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Natalie Crawford

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