The SMWC concert band

Instrumental opportunities abound at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. Students of any major are welcome to join the SMWC Concert Band or the Terre Haute Sinfonietta Pops Orchestra by registering with their related course numbers to take the ensemble for one elective credit each semester. Students are encouraged to bring their own instruments, but if one is needed, they can contact the ensemble director to use one provided by the College.

SMWC Instrumental History

Instrumental studies at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods have existed since its inception, with Saint Mother Theodore Guerin cited as writing “No piano, no pupils”. In addition to piano and guitar, students have had many opportunities to engage in various instrumental ensembles. Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Pep Band, Orchestra and even an early music Collegium are ensembles that students participated in at various points throughout the history of the College. In addition, the Terre Haute and Wabash Valley community have collaborated with the College to provide a wide range of instrumental opportunities for SMWC students, with community and professional musicians providing musical support as needed, creating a wonderful outreach into the community-at-large.

The SMWC concert band performing

Concert Band

The current SMWC Concert Band began in 2016 and includes both students and community players. This collaboration between the College and the Terre Haute community has allowed for a range of other instrumental opportunities as well. John McIntyre, DMA took over as Director of the Concert Band in 2019. McIntyre is a composer and has arranged for the band, including the first instrumental version of The Ring Song and Our Lady of Providence, typically only sung. These versions premiered at the SMWC Homecoming Concert in 2019.

About the Director

John McIntyre

John McIntyre, DMA brings a lifetime of experience in instrumental music to the SMWC Concert Band. He has conducted both choral and instrumental ensembles in North and South America, most recently appearing as guest conductor of the Terre Haute Concert Band. He is the tubist for Crossroads Brass and the Terre Haute Sinfonietta; his instrumental compositions and arrangements are published by Cimarron Music Press, Southern Music and others.

A student playing the trumpet during a concert

Terre Haute Sinfonietta Pops Orchestra

Community collaborations are an important part of music study at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. The Terre Haute Sinfonietta Pops Orchestra, directed by James Chesterson, is housed in the SMWC Conservatory of Music. This ensemble allows student musicians to participate in an orchestra experience, particularly string players, as one of their ensemble credits. Music majors or non-majors can participate in this ensemble for credit.

About the Director

James Chesterson

James Chesterson studied Music Education at Indiana State University, but after college worked as a field representative for a Fortune 100 company. Jim retired from the US Air Force which he returned to after leaving the private industry.

Chesterson served as Assistant Conductor alongside Dr. Earle R. Melendy, founder of the Sinfonietta Pops Orchestra and a mentor, for many years. After Dr. Melendy’s death, the Board of Directors appointed Chesterson to be Music Director of the orchestra. The Community Band and Orchestra make up the Terre Haute Community Band, Inc., for which he also serves as corporation president.

Chesterson lectures on opera and other music history subjects for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Indiana State University. As President Emeritus of Local #25 of the American Federation of Musicians, he has successfully overseen three contract negotiations for the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra.

In addition, Chesterson was a founding member of Crossroads Brass, a commercial brass quintet and is a commercial trumpet player for numerous events around Central Indiana. He also was a military bugler and played for the official memorial service for Indiana Governor Frank O’Bannon at the Indiana State House.