On May 7th, 2022, Penn’s Symphonic Winds Band came home from ISSMA State Finals in 7th place. Afterwards, I caught up with Mr. Glenn Northern, the band’s director, and euphonist Matt Helms (Class of 2023) about their performance and placing. I play clarinet in the band as well.

Q: How do you feel about this year’s performance?

GN: They performed really well. They had a great performance on Saturday. They really have performed well working through this whole concert cycle. They’ve had, really, four great performances that lead up to the state finals performance.

MH: I think everybody was really relaxed, which is not really an atmosphere that I’m usually used to. Everybody just seemed kind of ready to go in for it. They kept on talking about “a moment they wanted to last forever”, and so I think all of us played like we wanted it to be something we would remember and something we could always look back on.

Q: How does this year’s ISSMA compare to others you’ve directed in the past?

GN: I think this was more enjoyable for me personally. The band worked really well this year, which, the band always works well, but this year, I think, was exceptional in terms of the student dedication and the work we did together.

Q: What does winning 7th at state mean to you?

MH: I think it could have been a lot worse. I’m glad we were able to get as high as we did, even though we could’ve gotten better, and I think, just in general, being able to say we were in the top eight again after three years of not playing is just really, really important.

GN: It’s fun when you do well at that contest, but I always feel like you never want to get twisted up into the placings of it. If you do well, it’s great, you want to celebrate it, and if you don’t do as well as you hoped to do, I don’t feel like that’s something that you want to get too bent out of shape about.

Q: What is special about the Class of 2022?

GN: Well, they’ve been through a lot, for sure. Y’know, this class…their sophomore year was kind of lost when school shut down with the pandemic, and last year was in and out of school, and they’ve worked really well and they’ve given us a lot of great leadership, so I’m glad that the concert season finishes strong for them.

Q: What was your favorite piece in the program?

GN: Probably the Hymn To The Sun (by Satoshi Yagisawa).

MH: Hymn To The Sun without question!

GN: I think there’s a lot about that piece, there’s a lot of different things about that piece that make it kind of special. We’ve done it before in previous years and years ago we actually created a marching band show around that piece of music. We know it well and there’s a lot to it and it’s…there’s a lot of value in it.

MH: It’s one of those compositions that’s just…it tells a story that I don’t think any other piece can tell. You can tell the type of emotion the composer put in when he was scoring it, and that’s just something you don’t see in a lot of pieces. Hymn To The Sun feels like something you would hear almost to describe someone’s life and describe someone’s….a story that can’t really be put into words.

Congratulations to Symphonic Winds!