ATU Presents “Light, Flight and Heights” on Sunday

ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble File Photo
File photo of the Arkansas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble performing at Witherspoon Auditorium. Photo by Christian Amonson.

Witherspoon Auditorium will play host to a concert entitled “Light, Flight and Heights” by the Arkansas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble on Sunday, Nov. 19.

The performance will begin at 2:30 p.m. at 407 West Q Street on the ATU campus in Russellville. Admission will be free and open to the public.

Dr. Daniel A. Belongia, ATU director of bands and professor of music, serves as conductor for the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

The show will open with a performance of James M. David’s “Urban Light.”

Belongia described the piece as “an exciting and powerful overture inspired by rock music.”

The ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble will then offer a world premiere performance of “Birds of Paradise” by James Syler. It will feature Dr. Nathan Mensink on saxophone.

“Syler was inspired by the ‘rare birds’ that created and manifest a fusion of jazz and classical music in the second half of the 20th century, as well as the issues and challenges that were part of those musicians’ lives,” said Belongia. “Dr. Nathan Mensink, alto saxophone, is incredible and showcases how loud, soft, fast, slow and everything in between that the alto saxophone can be.”

The closer will be a regional premiere performance of “Passages” by Will Healy and spiritchild.

ATU vocal music education alumna Patricia Loera (soprano) and Dr. Sean Reed (trombone) will join the ensemble, as will two emcees: Chad Nelson of Miami, Fla., and co-composer spiritchild of New York City.

Belongia described “Passages” as “totally fresh and unique” and said it is “the only wind band piece I’ve ever heard of for multi-genre soloists and wind ensemble.”

“Passages” was commissioned by Robert Carnochan.

For those unable to attend in person, a live stream of the performance will be available at

In addition to the Sunday afternoon concert, members of the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble and their guests will also invest a portion of their weekend making recordings of the three pieces for release at a later date.

The recording session will be a continuation of the Pat and Roger Wattam Archival Recording Series at ATU. Christian Amonson will serve as recording engineer. Dr. TJ Perry, Dr. Jon Nash, Dr. Nicolas del Grazia, Evan Mino, Dr. Phoebe Robertson and Dr. Nathan Mensink will serve as producers.

Belongia said that additional support for “Light, Flight and Heights” was provided by the ATU Friends of Music donor group.

“Experiences like this for our students and faculty would simply not be possible without these generous and wonderful friends,” said Belongia. “We hope that you can join us live or on the stream to hear these incredible guest artists and the wonderful student members of our symphonic ensemble.”

Members of the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble for fall 2023 are: Olivia Hopkins, Hannah Smith, Taylor Brigance, Valeria Cordero, Lydia Logston and Diana Nava (flutes/piccolos); Kelton McGhee, Simon Murray and Marybeth Boroughs (oboes); Brandon Williams, Rhett Neagles and Teagan Hartwright (bassoons); Tess Butler, Corrigan Burkett, Mackenzie Murphy, Cadence Graves, Rebecca Davis, Savannah Skaggs and Jordan Clark (Eb/Bb clarinets); Kaitlyn Rebidue and Martha Smith Gomez (bass and contra clarinets); Mya Manes, Mady Johnson, Elizabeth Barrett, Samuel Spann and Matt Shirey (saxophones); Aaron Mack, Zoe Covey Smith, Brad Wills, Luke Walker, Eliza Smith and Rachel Estep (horns); Kris Campbell, Alex Louden, Evelyn Leding, Jake Hodges, Drake Hyche and Hayden Judy (Bb/C trumpets); Brendan Frazier, Gunner Hodges, Dawson Schalk and John-Carl Laidler (trombones); Carter Johnson (bass trombone); Preston Keeter and Amy Look (euphoniums); Lorenzo Castelano-Chavez, Jesse Wells and Blake Mitchell (tubas); Marlon King, Jansen Scribner, Nathan Brady, Brandon Reynolds, Eli Mitchell, Jessie Hernandez and Austin Stokes (percussion); Joshua Carman and Jesse Wells (string bass); Noah Pifer (piano/celesta/harpsichord); and Alisa Coffey (harp).

Learn more about the ATU Department of Music at