There are certain things you can expect as a music major earning your degree or as a music instructor at a regional campus—one of these things may not necessarily be performing at Carnegie Hall.
For IPFW Director of Instrumental Studies and Director of Bands Daniel Tembras and his students, this fantastic opportunity became a reality last March.
“That trip was something that I think ended up surpassing our expectations for what it would do for the students and the university,” Tembras says. “I hope to partake in those experiences again with our students in the near future.”
THE PERFORMANCE OF A LIFETIME
Tembras came to IPFW four years ago after completing a doctorate of musical arts at the University of Texas at Austin—where he heard about an opening in Fort Wayne. Seeing as his family was a hop, skip, and a jump away in Michigan, the opportunity looked pretty enticing.
“The department also showed incredible potential,” he says. “Just coming in here, the facilities are top-notch. Most universities do not have facilities of this caliber. The students here were incredibly welcoming and open-minded when I came to interview. The faculty was very supportive and IPFW is an IU Mission School, so everything that pertains to Indiana University pertains here, too, in regards to the quality and expectations.”
In the four years that Tembras has been a part of IPFW’s faculty, he’s seen the university grow by leaps and bounds—particularly in the student body.
“The students are wonderful,” he says. “They come from all different walks of life and we see a lot of students that come from families where they’re the first to go to college, and some who’ll come here because of the IU name. We have a lot of different areas where our students are drawn from and there’s a variety of majors we have here—music education, music performance, music in an outside field, music technology, and music therapy are just some of the degrees we offer.”
The idea of stepping outside the classroom for learning experiences originated two years ago when Tembras took a group of students to Chicago to see the Chicago Symphony perform live—the group partook in an architectural boat tour and went to explore the Art Institute of Chicago.
“To see the students’ faces and to notice the need for our students to actually see these things more regularly than they do and to be exposed to great culture was a big tell for me,” he says. “Fort Wayne is a wonderful city, but we don’t have the resources that New York City or Boston have in regards to the arts. That’s how the Carnegie Hall trip started.”
Last summer, Tembras received a call from the New York Wind Band Festival—the department’s ensembles were recommended to come and participate in the annual spring festival at Carnegie Hall. Tembras approached Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts John O’Connell in hopes that he would be onboard.
“He thought about it for maybe three hours and then gave me a call and said, ‘Let’s do this’,” he recalls. “He’s been incredibly supportive in that regard. Once that started, the ball started rolling. The students were onboard from the get-go, with the idea of going to New York City and performing at Carnegie Hall. We traveled to the Museum of Modern Art and to the Metropolitan Opera to watch a production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.”
The group was comprised of approximately 50 students, a student photographer (also from the College of Visual and Performing Arts), and Tembras.
“What we set forth music-wise was a program about New York,” he says. “We performed the Overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein—figured that was a good starter. I’m sure a New York program has been done a million times before, but we had a couple of extra special touches.”
Tembras’ ensemble also collaborated with Billy Hunter, principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, to perform Herbert L. Clarke’s “Bride of the Waves,” a famous cornet solo.
STRIKING A CHORD
“One of our duties as musicians is to spread great art or artists who are a reflection of their society—that’s the hope that all our students leave here with,” Tembras explains. “The opportunity to engage our community is a really important factor and an important aspect of the students’ education. We try to let the community know what we’re doing, which we do through free concerts that are open to the public.”
In just the last year, they collaborated with the Penn High School wind ensemble from Mishawaka, Ind., and the Dekalb High School band.
“We want everyone to come to our concerts,” he says. “We want them to see the quality of musicians that we’re educating here and the types of students that IPFW has.”
All of the department’s students participate in smaller ensembles. Many of these ensembles are tasked with traveling around the community and performing at city functions, senior centers, or local high schools. They also serve multiple missions—everything from recruitment to the standard outreach and taking great art into the community.
“The benefits of IPFW for a potential student are numerous,” Tembras says. “First of all, starting from the IU degree that you receive here—in that aspect, everything up from your course numbers are all the same in Bloomington. We have the luxury of students being able to get two degrees from two of the greatest institutions in the nation simultaneously while they’re studying.
“I feel my job is to provide others with great experiences via my past experiences. When I’m in a classroom, I try to open the eyes of a lot of students, but I also try to play devil’s advocate quite often in our conversations. I challenge them on a regular basis because the activity of day-to-day existence is different than the activity of making art or making music—you have to put a lot more of yourself into those things.”
For the third year, Tembras has been invited to conduct during the Mid Europe Festival, based in Schladming, Austria, where university and professional ensembles from all over the world gather to perform.
“The university has been incredibly helpful in supporting me in my endeavors to partake in this,” he says. “A number of our students are traveling for the first time with us who have auditioned and have been accepted to perform. Not only am I a conductor, but there are probably three or four other conductors that will be there—world-renowned conductors. I think I just got lucky and slipped in.”
Tembras’ ensembles aren’t only making an impact in festivals outside the state and country—they’re making an impact on Fort Wayne, too.
“I think our department is not only trying to become engrossed in the cultural life of the city, but I also think it’s expanding it,” he says. “One of our goals here—probably an indirect goal as musicians—is to try to enlighten the lives of as many people as we can.”
Department of Music
A degree in music can take your passion for performance to new heights. In the Department of Music, explore the scholarship of performance, teaching, music therapy, and music production. Jam with one of our many ensembles, bare your soul on the acoustically superb Auer Performance Hall stage, or delight your audience with your own masterpiece. We graduate performance artists, teachers, music therapists, audio technicians, and more. Our program includes guitar performance, music therapy, instrumental performance, piano performance, music education, vocal performance, and music technology. Learn more.