UNCA ensembles audition for the spring semester


Dr. Emily Eng

The UNC Asheville Songwriters Ensemble performs on Nov. 13th, 2022.

Will Rhodarmer, [email protected], Arts and Features Writer

Jan. 12 marked the audition day for a multitude of UNC Asheville music department ensembles where students and staff alike showed their continued desire for creating music together.

The music department has many ensembles of varying styles and genres, each one led by a faculty member who guides and facilitates the ensemble’s activities.

The Songwriters Ensemble, directed by Emily Eng, saw a staggeringly high 24 auditionees. The ensemble focuses on creating and performing original music.

“There was a lot of really awesome energy during the auditions,” said Eng. “A lot of nerves as well, but they were good nerves.”

Eng is a new full-time faculty member in the music department, with this being her first year at the school. In addition to the Songwriters Ensemble, she directs the Wind Ensemble, a non-audition concert band.

“For me, it was really rewarding as a faculty member to have that much turnout,” said Eng. “It was a lot of fun, very fulfilling.”

For Eng, directing the Songwriters Ensemble has been a satisfying and rewarding experience thus far.

“Witnessing people pushing the limits of their creativity and discovering ways to make music, especially in genres they aren’t usually working with, has been incredibly fun,” Eng said.

Hwa-Jin Kim is the director of the Chamber Music Ensemble, one that focuses on a more classical style of music.

“I was impressed with the energy and passion the students displayed. The auditions went very well and we discussed and shared ideas on the repertoire,” Kim said.

Kim was recently promoted to full-time music faculty in Fall 2022 and has used that opportunity to bring heightened involvement in classical music to the department.

“There has been an increased level of interest in classical music among students,” said Kim. “I have been trying to bring classical music back to students by introducing it through stories and a relaxed listening environment. When the music department chair, Brian Felix, suggested starting a Chamber Music Ensemble, I said yes wholeheartedly. I am so excited to lead this new student chamber music group that the music department offers for the first time.”

From a student perspective, auditioning for an ensemble can sometimes be a tall task.

“Auditioning can be nerve-wracking at first,” said Alek Dyer, a freshman music major. “But it can be fun along the way, the professors care more about your musicality than the mistakes you could make.”

Dyer was accepted into Kim’s Chamber Music Ensemble and he is eager to begin practicing and performing with the group.

“I definitely look forward to working on classical repertoire for the first time in quite a while,” said Dyer.

The overall ensemble experience can be enriching to participate in and it helps to enrich not only the music department but the campus community as a whole. 

“Learning and playing music in a group setting gives students a sense of purpose. In a time like this, we all need to support, share and care for one another. Joining an ensemble is being a part of a vibrant and supportive group that may positively impact the whole atmosphere of the college community. So join us,” Kim said.

Many ensembles, such as Songwriters, are excited to share their talents and bring a new layer of enjoyment to the campus community. Any student is welcome to audition for any ensemble, even if they are not a music major or minor. 

“I’m eager to get out into the campus community more,” said Eng. “We had some non-music majors audition this semester, so I think there is some momentum building for the overall program.”

In the end, ensembles offer a worthwhile experience in a multitude of ways.

“While it may be somewhat intimidating initially, you are improving your confidence, and you will develop the skill to pay attention to others,” said Kim. “Students will have great fun at the same time. It is a very enriching and respectful experience to listen to others and share musical ideas in a comfortable setting.”

From Dyer’s perspective, the ensemble’s interaction with the audience is one of the most rewarding aspects.

“I love sharing music with the audience and being able to communicate with my bandmates through music,” said Dyer. “Music is a language.”

UNCA ensembles will have performances at various times throughout the semester, most taking place in Lipinsky Hall.