International composers collaborate

orchestra on stage

Southeastern Wind Symphony conductor, Dr. Glen Hemberger, prepares the audience
for a unique night that will blend Brazilian and American musical styles.
The Lion's Roar / Megan Ferrando

International borders were crossed through the common language of music. Glen Hemberger, artistic director and conductor of the Southeastern Wind Symphony, and Gilberto Salvagni, guest conductor of Brazil, came together to deliver a unique performance uniting Brazil and the United States.

Entitled “Rhythm Unites the World,” the Southeastern Wind Symphony preformed Oct. 23 at the Columbia Theatre.

“I thought it was a beautiful collaboration of international communication brought together by music. It gave me chills,” said Cassie Hill, mother of one of the student musicians. “This was a whole lot more than what we expected. The music was beautiful. It was uplifting.”

The international collaboration impacted each individual differently, creating an environment in which they could learn of new cultures and have fun.

“For me it was a learning experience, but above all it was fun,” said Salvagni. “I learn from musicians and we exchange energies. At first a little weird, a little different from my way of conducting, but we started getting used to it during rehearsals, at the end we were having fun and making music together.”

The music opened with the national anthem of Brazil, followed by the star spangled banner. The performance was filled with unique pieces such as the “Video Games Medley” and “Maos Ao Alto,” arranged by Salvagni.

The wind symphony began rehearsing on the Monday before the Thursday performance. 

Despite initial doubts of rehearsing with language barriers, the outcome was positive among the performers. 

“At first I thought it would be weird because we couldn’t really communicate, but between motions and the facial expressions [it worked], ” said Braden Eymard, junior music education major who plays the French horn. “Music as a universal language is really awesome because before even using his translator we already had communication.”

Salvagni does not view the international differences as a barrier, but simply conducting with a new group. For the Southeastern Wind Symphony, the relationship was quick to blossom.

“I don’t think there is much difference, what we notice from a group to another, regardless of which country, is the way each one conducts,” said Salvagni. “It takes time getting used to it, but for me it was very fast and pleasant to get used to the group.”

Salvagni connected with Hemberger a few years ago and Hemberger has been visiting Brazil and conducting there every summer for the past three summers. He found that it was time to bring his friend and fellow composer to the United States for the first time.

“What a great opportunity to bring Brazil here,” said Hemberger. “They loved it. They loved the food, they love the people, the cultures and the music. They were in awe.”

The performance was also intended to help the Wind Symphony raise money for an upcoming trip on May 31, 2015 in Washington DC.

For more information on other events related to the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, check out the university’s website.

Editor’s Note: Since Salvagni speaks limited English, his quotes were translated by Le Souvenir Editor Fernanda Chagas.