The smooth, rhythmic sounds of trumpets, flutes, saxophones and other wind instruments were guided by SF State’s new part-time music conductor Troy Davis last Thursday.
The SF State Wind Ensemble played four classical music pieces in their “Honeymoon in Paris” concert seasonal opener. Pieces such as “Paris Sketches” by Martin Ellerby and “April in Paris” by Vernon Duke and E.Y. Harburg filled Knuth Hall in the Creatives Arts Building.
Davis was notified of the position by the ensemble’s previous conductor Dr. Martin Seggelke, who had left SF State to teach music at Illinois State University. Davis said he will be teaching as well as conducting classes.
“I have the utmost respect for everyone I’m working with,” Davis said. “I feel like I’m part of a special group.”
The Wind Ensemble is composed of numerous students, faculty and community members who join together to perform six to eight concerts on campus during each academic semester. Membership is open to all and admittance is determined through auditions, according to their website.
Davis is an oboe player and has been playing, freelancing and conducting for the Oakland Municipal Band, as well as directing Aragon High School’s band in events. Davis attended SF State in the early 90s as an undergrad and left to finish his bachelor’s degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
“My job is to encourage the members of the wind ensemble to be the most expressive musicians that they can be,” Davis said.
Ben Villa III, a trumpet player for the ensemble and SF State music education major, remembered Davis as his old middle school music director. Villa said that he chose SF State in hopes of working with Seggelke but was happy to know that he would be working with Davis.
“Seggelke was hard to replace, he was actually the reason I came here,” Villa said.
Villa wore a suit and bow tie and conversed with other ensemble players right before the show. The ensemble has more than 60 players with numerous band members having gathered in the Creative Arts building before their performance.
Villa stated he was disappointed that Seggelke departed right before his admittance into SF State, but that he was happy about Davis’ involvement.
“I was fairly relieved because I already knew him,” Villa said. “He’s very positive and concrete. I try to simulate his style.”
Dee Spencer, a professor and the director of music and dance at SF State, hired Davis to replace Seggelke last summer. After Seggelke recommended Davis to Spencer, she hired him to fill the position void after Seggelke’s departure. Spencer said Davis’ position is part-time but hopes to have him as a permanent member of the faculty.
“We have a search for a tenure track position and I hope he applies for it,” she said.
Davis will continue to lead the wind ensemble through many more performances throughout the academic semester. “I have to praise the students, they’re very dedicated.” Davis said. “I’m really enjoying my stay so far at the school.”