Six School of Music students in Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts are finding success by coming together as the Eos Sextet.
The group was selected to compete in the semi-finals in the M-Prize Senior Winds Competition and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, both top chamber music competitions in the world, according to Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music. Earlier this year the group won the MTNA National Chamber Music Wind Competition and was awarded first prize in the ENKOR Chamber Music Competition, Category B.
“Being exposed to the high level of musicianship that our competitors brought to the table each round inspired us to raise our own expectations for Eos,” said Andrew Lammly, a second-year graduate student in the group, about one of the group’s recent competitions.
In addition to Lammly, the Eos Sextet includes junior music education major Grace Chen, second-year graduate students Curren Myers and Fangyi Niu, and third-year doctoral students Sam Detweiler and Justin Rollefson.
"Throughout this process, I have learned a lot about the characteristics one needs to be a member of a happily functioning ensemble,” Chen said. “One of my favorite characteristics of our group is our ability to be extremely flexible and receptive to any adjustments suggested by any member of the group. We all work together collectively to make improvements based on the different things we each hear, and our different musical backgrounds and experiences give us a wide range of musical input. Our rehearsals are a lot more fun and effective than any other ensembles I’ve been in because everyone contributes.”
Other group members agree that working together is one of the keys to success, and Lammly encourages students who are interested in competing to record rehearsals and listen together as often as possible.
Rollefson said it’s also important to put in work outside of the ensemble.
"In order to be successful in national chamber competitions, you must be willing to put in a lot of hours rehearsing with one another as well as many hours preparing your individual part so that when the ensemble meets they can focus on making musical choices together as opposed to an individual struggling with their own part,” he said.
The group also credits its success to their coach, Christopher Creviston, associate professor of saxophone in the School of Music.
Chen called Creviston a “tremendous teacher and musical guide for this ensemble” and said he was crucial to the group’s development.
"Dr. Creviston gave us critical feedback that we needed in order to perform the music with excellence,” Detweiler said. “He coached us through our musical ideas and he helped us shape and reshape our group sound to be the best it could be."
While Eos enjoys its success, the members of the group said they gain much more than awards by participating in competitions and playing with the each other.
“There is something to be relished about being engrossed in the exact same musical moment as someone else and feeling the synergy of communication between six different voices,” Lammly said. “It is in this way that I learned more about myself as a chamber musician and how I can better communicate with my musical partners. I have never been in a chamber ensemble that musically communicates as well as Eos.”