As a reviewer with CVNC, I feel especially grateful that I’m able to see a bigger picture when it comes to arts opportunities in North Carolina. Nearly every city in this state is only a half hour away from high quality musical offerings both professional and communal. And in Cary, the Triangle Wind Ensemble is an important detail of the bigger picture. Their concert, Latin Landscapes, brought together a program of music inspired by Spanish dance, Southwestern landscape, and contemporary popular music both in the U.S. and abroad. Both their programming and performance were impressive, but what the Triangle Wind Ensemble impressed upon me most was their valuable dedication to community-building through music-making.

Music Director Evan Feldman led the concert as both maestro and master of ceremonies. Not only was Feldman an entertaining personality on the podium and a visually engaging conductor, he showed that instrumental music doesn’t have to be an exclusive language. With the help of the ensemble, Feldman pulled out excerpts from the music to explain form, time, and feel, and highlighted the most relevant background details of each piece to help forge substantial musical connections. From the perspective of the audience, Dr. Feldman was a joy to watch and learn from, and I anticipate that working alongside him is just as rewarding for members of the group.

And just as community and places of belonging are important, artistic fulfillment is important too. It’s so easy to fall into a lifestyle where enjoying the arts becomes an afterthought, and when life keeps us busy, it seems like outlets for self-expression are the first to get cut. But we’re meant to be expressive; it’s how we connect with one another! Especially after leaving school, opportunities for hobbyist music-making can be few-and-far-between which is what makes volunteer groups critical third spaces. The Triangle Wind Ensemble also showed that amateur ensemble performance is just as exciting for participants as it is for audience members, as there was no shortage of expressive musicianship. Strong section playing across the board, thoughtful solo features including several compelling English horn solos, and a strong low reed sound led by bass clarinet held my attention throughout.

Treasurer Carey Forman made an important point after intermission. For a volunteer group like the Triangle Wind Ensemble, there’s a huge amount of work that goes into keeping the organization together and active. This concert brought in nearly a full house at the Cary Arts Center, but still only a third of the group’s operational costs are covered by ticket sales. And it’s a similar story for other community groups, school programs, and even small professional ensembles: keeping the arts active takes a considerable amount of money and effort. All this to say, if you value the arts, stay engaged. Attend regularly, volunteer when you can, sponsor a musician if it’s within your means, and use your connections in the community to help! Without the help of the village, it’s so easy for these thriving musical opportunities to disappear through simple negligence.

In my eyes, a volunteer community group doesn’t really need critical review but I’ll always give praise where it’s due! The programming was exciting, relevant, and multifaceted, the performance quality was high, and the reception was enjoyable. If you’re in the Triangle, check out the Triangle Wind Ensemble website for future concerts. And wherever you are in North Carolina, find the arts in your towns and cities, connect with them, and offer them the strength of the community.