Research Communications

Stage Presence 

Wind instrumentalist makes mark on Carnegie Hall

May 11, 2011

On the last rehearsal before the concert at Carnegie Hall, renowned conductor Robert H. Reynolds advised the students in the National Collegiate Wind Ensemble that they might be distracted by playing in the prestigious venue. Ohio University student Stephanie Dumais, who performed on piccolo, agrees that the glamorous architecture and framed photos of renowned musicians was a bit overwhelming—but also exciting.

“I couldn’t believe I was standing on the same stage that so many famous musicians have stood on as well. Frank Sinatra, Elton John, the Beatles, Louis Armstrong, and so many others had been there before me,” says Dumais, a senior majoring in music education and flute performance.   

Funded by an Ohio University Student Enhancement Award, Dumais earned an invitation to play in the National Collegiate Wind Ensemble, which features the top 50 to 60 collegiate musicians across the nation. The experience of playing with new student musicians pushed Dumais out of her comfort zone, says the student, who serves as first chair in Ohio University’s Symphony Orchestra and the Wind Ensemble.

Stephanie Dumais
Stephanie Dumais. Photo credit: Kevin Riddell.

In the national ensemble, Dumais was tapped to play piccolo, a prestigious position that requires mastering the finger technique and intonation of the flute. The piccolo is the highest voice heard in the wind ensemble, and one must be able to stay in tune with the rest of the flute section.

The rehearsals in New York City were more challenging than the ones Dumais was used to at Ohio University, where students rehearse, on average, four hours per week. For the national performance, the ensemble rehearsed six hours per day for three days, and Dumais had to learn four to five technically challenging pieces.

“It was a lot of music to become proficient at in such a short time before the final concert, especially at Carnegie Hall,” she says.

But performing as part of the National Collegiate Wind Ensemble was the highlight of Dumais’ career so far, and could lead to more opportunities in the field.

“Performing at Carnegie Hall opened Stephanie’s eyes to how many good musicians are out there,” says Alison Sincoff, the student’s faculty adviser. She noted that the experience has solidified the student’s plans to apply for graduate studies in flute performance.

By Milissa Hudepohl

This story will appear in the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Perspectives magazine.