Elon student music group plans concert tour

By Kelsey Higgins
Special to the Times-News

   ELON — This year after exams, when most Elon University students are heading home for winter holiday break, the student musicians who make up the Elon Music Ambassadors ensemble (EMA) will get into vans and head out for a four-day tour.
   Students of the touring ensemble will begin its winter tour with a world music concert titled “One World, One Voice,” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, 2012,  in McCrary Theatre on the Elon University campus. Admission is free and the show will include music from all around the globe from regions such as Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.
   “We want to show traditional music from certain regions, where it is now and how the cultures of those regions influenced it. American music has roots in so many different parts of the world, so that’s where we want to end,” said senior LE Alexander, student musician and tour coordinator.
   EMA is a relatively new group on campus, and it was founded to showcase Elon’s music department through performances at high schools across the country. The group also will be going on a second tour for a week in January.
   Students are selected for EMA based on leadership, musical and academic skills. Chosen students then meet with Virginia Novine Whittaker, adjunct instructor of music and founder and director of EMA, to select music and a theme for the program as well as arrange the music to fit the unique instrumentation.
   “I consider it a real privilege to be able to work with the students in this ensemble and to represent Elon University,” Whittaker said. “The concept grew from just touring with the saxophone ensemble to a group containing more instruments, so it reaches a wider variety of students.”
   Once the show is written, the ensemble rehearses for about three to five hours a week, schools are contacted and the tour is set up.
   “The music is one thing. It’s a big job to organize the travel part,” Alexander said.
   And the work does not end there.
   The music technology member of EMA then figures out what equipment to use to create the sounds the group wants in various venues. Some shows might be in an auditorium, others in a band room, which requires a different sound system.
   Students must be incredibly adaptable because every school, audience and situation is different. EMA also has to apply for grants to fund its tour.
   “The music department has a small budget and it doesn’t completely cover this,” Whittaker said.
   The future of this ensemble looks bright as it continues to improve, reach more high school students and enrich the experience for the college students involved.

 Kelsey Higgins is a sophomore at Elon University.



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