Troy University’s Celtic Ensemble had their first meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 22 at 6:30.
According to the email sent to all Troy students by Bret Woods, an assistant professor of ethnomusicology and coordinator of music history and world music and a member of the Celtic Ensemble, the group is a traditional music group that invites musicians and vocalists to come listen to melodies and “tunes of Irish, Scottish, Manx, Welsh and Scandinavian origins” and then practice those songs by ear.
Woods said that the Celtic Ensemble’s roots were in a program he started at the university in 2012.
“I began a world music program when I first came to Troy… the first ensemble as an extension of that program was Irish ensemble.” Woods said. “But in 2016 we were able to hire Jaime Hammack to direct the ensemble… later, Jamie expanded the group’s scope to ‘Celtic.’”
Jaime Hammack, the director of the ensemble, said that the music that the ensemble presents will be new to both audiences and band members.
“Most of our members are new to playing the tunes we play, and many are even new to the instruments they choose for the ensemble,” Hammack said.
Hammack also said a strong sense of community is important for the ensemble to build.
“I like to foster a tight-knit ‘band’ sort of mentality among the group,” Hammack said. “Where many college courses are crafted to prepare students for professional life, Celtic Ensemble is what it is— community music, here and now.”
The community within the ensemble is unique in that both students and faculty perform together in the ensemble.
Jay Bowdoin, a senior theater major from Defuniak Springs, is a past member of the ensemble. He said that performing in the ensemble with faculty was a good learning opportunity.
“It was awesome to be around people more experienced than you,” Bowdoin said. “The best way for me to learn something is through observation, so having them right there made learning much easier.”
Bowdoin played tenor banjo and the fiddle in the ensemble, and said that while he had prior experience with instruments, the ensemble allowed him to grow out of his comfort zone.
“I knew basic violin before joining, but I’d be nowhere near where I am now without the ensemble,” said Bowdoin.
The instruments Bowdoin played are one of many options for potential members to try when they join the ensemble.
“Members contribute however they can,” Hammack said. “At our final performance last semester, one of our students performed ASL sign-singing… another performed a solo jig on the harmonium… our faculty members told stories and provided historical context for our songs.”
The ensemble meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. For more information about the ensemble, contact Dr. Bret Woods at firstname.lastname@example.org.