top of page
Screenshot 2024-03-01 at 5.44.36 PM.png



This concert features a diverse set of incredibly beautiful and inspiring works for band, centered around Ida Gotkovsky's masterpiece for winds, Poeme du feu ("Poeme of Fire")- an engaging and exciting 2-movement work of mid-century French wind music. We'll shift to Giovanni Santos' Timba, which explores Afro-Cuban style, and features UMSL Music Faculty Dawn Weber and Matthew Henry. For this concert, we're excited to host the Grand Center Arts Academy Symphonic Band as our guest ensemble. They are led by Ms. Stephenie Grasso, who has assembled an engaging program to add to this evening's offerings. 

Thank you for joining us, and we hope you enjoy this music!  

- Dr. David Wacyk 



Above all, Joy is an expression of its namesake: simple, unabashed joy. A boisterous, uninhibited quality is implied in the music, not only at climactic moments, but also by the frequent presence of sudden and dramatic stylistic contrasts. 

The main melody and overall mood of the work were inspired by a signal event: the birth of our first child. The intense feelings that most any father would feel on such a day were, in my case, accompanied by a simple little tune which grabbed hold of me in the hours preceding her birth, and refused to let go throughout the day and many days thereafter. Indeed, until I jotted it down in my sketchbook, it did not release its grip.

Seven years and two children later, I stumbled upon that old sketch and discovered (or rediscovered) that it would serve perfectly as the foundation for a joy-filled concert band overture.

- Program Note by composer

RICHARD SAUCEDO Fanfare for the Third Planet

A dedication to our own planet Earth, this impressive piece features a rhythmic vitality throughout, along with fresh harmonies and skilled orchestral devices. Amid the powerful fanfare-like phrases, a brief calm section is created using the woodwinds and a unique layering effect before building to the dynamic ending. 

- Program Note from publisher


IDA GOTKOVSKY Poeme du feu (poem of fire) 

Fire is a commonality of technological advancement throughout the earliest human societies. Legends on its origin abound, each one conferring a sacred feature; fire is a link between Creature and his Creator. Culture’s curiosity of fire inspired Ida Gotokovsky’s Poème du feu. She is particularly fascinated by the Celtic myth of Zarathustra. During the ceremonies heralding in the new year, men would light two hearths. The first one, which had been watched and honored all year, would be coming to its end, while the second gave birth to the new year. The two fires are represented by the two movements of this work. Gotkovsky writes: 

" The first movement -- Majestuoso -- is a Fire of gigantic proportions, the Spring of life which makes us relive the first moments of creation. The second movement -- Prestissimo -- being at the heart of human achievement, is a power of revelation, an impetuous power which raises man to the level their creator." 

This work is a masterpiece of 20th Century French musical style, in its orchestration and harmonic language (reminiscent of Debusy, Ravel, etc...). Albert Fasce, head of the musical department of the French Army writes:

"The Poème du feu by Madame Ida Gotkovsky is one of the most successful, original compositions for symphonic band in recent years. I have had to conduct this work at concerts with different orchestras, and in particular at Budapest, and each performance was greeted by enthusiastic ovations. Moreover, it is quite rare in contemporary music to achieve, at the same time, the satisfaction of the musicians and success with the public. This magnificent work is written remarkably for wind instruments. There is no major technical difficulty, but the character of this work calls for meticulous placing and a certain orchestral glow."

-Note adapted from the Hartt Wind Ensemble 


The music of Cuba is diverse, electric, transformative, soulful, elegant and energetic. Highly influenced by its African and European roots, Cuban music celebrates the soul and ingenuity of a nation.

Timba sets out to celebrate the rich musical traditions of Cuba, starting and ending in the Bembé style. The work also celebrates the Cuban timba, a genre of music rooting from the son and salsa.

Music unites us, it elevates us. Music liberates us!

The notes above are from the composer, Giovanni Santos. Tonights performance is further elevated by improvisations from UMSL Music professors Matthew Henry (Percussion), and Dawn Weber (Trumpet). 


Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth,
It always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres
Love never fails.

Halcyon Hearts is an ode to love and how it affects us all. Halcyon denotes a time where a person is ideally happy or at peace, so in short Halcyon Hearts is about the moment of peace when one finds their love or passion. 

The piece centers around major 7th and warm colors to represent the warmth that love bring us. The introduction – which is sudden and colorful – symbolizes the feeling of the unexpected journey it takes to find love. Using the colors and natural energy of the ensemble, we create this sound of ambition and passion throughput the work. No matter what race, gender, religion, nationality or love, we all are united with the common thread of passion from the heart. This piece was written in dedication to those who love no matter which negativity is in the world; do not allow hate and prejudice to guide the way we live our lives. Always choose love and the halcyon days will come.


David Wacyk, Conductor, Music Director 

DR. DAVID WACYK is a conductor and educator dedicated to serving students, the community, and the profession through meaningful music making. David serves as Director of Instrumental Ensembles and Assistant Teaching Professor of Music at University of Missouri- St. Louis where he conducts the UMSL Orchestra, UMSL Wind Ensemble, chamber ensembles, and coordinates the “Triton Sound” Pep band. 


Prior to his arrival at UMSL, David was Director of Instrumental Music at Saint Martin’s University, and previously taught instrumental conducting at Towson University. As a Doctoral student at the University of Maryland he served as Assistant Conductor of the Wind Orchestra and Wind Ensemble. Prior to his Doctoral work, David was Director of Bands at North Harford High School, where he directed instrumental ensembles and taught music theory. 


David's scholarship focuses on modernist and avant-garde wind music of Twentieth-century composers, including Igor Stravinsky,  Edgard Varese, and Ida Gotkovsky. Additionally David has led discussions related to re-evaluating existing systems of concertizing and programming, and addressing systemic inadequacies in the field of wind bands. Recently he has accepted invitations to present at the CBDNA ("Symphonies of Winds: toward a new understanding of pitch structure", and "The Intelligence of Sound: matters of ethos and style in the wind music of Edgard Varese"), IGEB ("The Wind Music of Ida Gotkovsky"), WMEA ("The Future is Flexible: Small bands as leaders in creativity", and DNMC ("New Music and New Paradigms: an honest conversation on the future of college ensembles"). The Wind Music of Ida Gotkovksy was also presented as a national webinar. In October 2023, David travelled to the CRR Paris Conservatory to present on Gotkovsky's music, and in January 2024 David will led a pre-concert discussion for the SLSO. He has been named a finalist- and awarded second place- for the American Prize in conducting. 

David holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree and Master of Music degree in Conducting from University of Maryland, and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Western Michigan University.  David maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor and clinician throughout the United States, including as a conductor for the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. He resides in Clayton, MO with his wife Laurel, and son Roger.

Stephenie Grasso, Conductor 

STEPHENIE GRASSO is the Director of Bands and Music Department Chair at Grand Center Academy. She began teaching in South Florida and joined the faculty at GCAA in 2020. Under her leadership the band program has tripled in size, received its first ever straight superior rating, and has collaborated frequently with arts organizations like the St Louis Symphony and Opera Theater St. Louis. In 2023 she was awarded the teacher of the year award for GCAA. Stephenie received her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Palm Beach Atlantic University as the Outstanding Graduate honoree for the college of Music and Arts. In 2022 she received her Masters in Music Education Degree from Vandercook College of Music.

Matthew Henry, Percussion

MATTHEW HENRY has been a part of the UMSL faculty since 2003.

Specializing in non-Western percussion, such as the drumming of the Malinke ethnic group of West Africa (djembe orchestra) and Cuban styles (popular and folkloric), he has presented numerous clinics, master classes, and residencies focused on these topics. His baccalaureate studies were completed in Music Performance at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and he holds a Master’s Degree in Orchestral Performance from Webster University. He is a voting member of the International Percussive Arts Society World Percussion Committee and a member of the Musicians Association of St. Louis, Local 2-197. His clinic and master class schedule includes Middle Tennessee State University, the University of Indiana, Southeast Missouri State, Truman State University, the University of Oklahoma, Lindenwood University, Webster University, the annual Missouri Music Educators Conference, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and school districts across the Midwest.

In addition to educational engagements, Matthew performs regularly around the St. Louis area. Performance credits include The Who, Michael McDonald, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Muny Orchestra, Gateway Festival Orchestra, Union Avenue Opera, Musica SLESA, the Nuclear Percussion Ensemble, and the Funky Butt Brass Band. The most recent addition to his endeavors is SpecDrum (, a community outreach and world culture education organization. Matthew Henry is Artist/Educational Clinician for REMO, Vic Firth, Latin Percussion, Mapex Drums, and Majestic Percussion.

Dawn Weber, Trumpet

DAWN WEBER is known as one of the top performers in the St. Louis region.  She left home at the early age of 16 to study trumpet performance at North Carolina School of the Arts.  She then continued her education at the prestigious conservatory The Cleveland Institute of Music.   After studying and freelancing in Cleveland she came to the St. Louis area and quickly broke her way into the music scene.  Not long after arriving in St. Louis she started to sub and play extra with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.  In 2001 She was chosen 1 out of 5 trumpet players in the world to compete in the esteemed Elsworth Smith International Trumpet Competition finals.   Along with Dawn's intense study of the classical side of trumpet she also studied jazz at the conservatory.  This gave her the experience to work professionally in both genres.  Also not long after moving to this region she became a member of the popular jazz and swing group Vargas Swing which toured all over the country.   This is also where Dawn got her start with singing, songwriting, and becoming a front personality.  


Currently, Dawn leads projects of her own besides being one the top call trumpet players in the region.   The projects she heads are the popular group Dawn Weber and The Electro Funk Assembly (and electronic project) and the Dawn Weber Group (a jazz, blues, and swing project).  She is a regular member of the soul, funk and fusion project Naked Rock Fight, Arch City Brass, Gateway Brass, and  Son Montuno which is a Latin and salsa band.  You can check out to catch her schedule and see her perform in all that she does.




Katlynn Connor 

Liah Kahn

Caroline Kidwell

Emma Landwehr

Alissa Smith


Joy Floyd 


Jacob Johnson

Dave Metzger

Mark Lauer* 



       Joey Brown

       Sam Brown

       Laurin Council

       Heather Decker

       Amber Matronia

       Tyler Teague

       Linda Tessereau

       Sara Thompson 

       Lauren Tremusini 

       Anne Winkler*

Bass Clarinet

Chris Hollingsworth 

Miguel Oseguera


Alto Saxophone

       Caleb Browne

       Alfredo Deleon

       Dani Strehle

       Odessa Willet 

       Jennifer Roberts


Tenor Saxophone

        Shane Wolz

        Tarick Brisker

       Baritone Saxophone

       Tyler McFarland


Tommy Ahl 

Quinn Breeze

Allison Felter

Sara Mullins 

Luca Saewe

Bernadetta Newkirk Sommer


Rachel Bartleman

Krishaun Dotson-Orange 

Cristian Fudge

Seth Peters

Abby Pierce

Mark Tessereau

Linus Saewe

Joshua Veal


Jamie Blaylock

Ben Ellis 

Ryan Scott

George Todd

Patrick Wilke

David Kreipke


Michael Merritt Jr. 

Aidan Jay

Lydia Oseguera


Nathan Hopkins

Charles Wilkes


Chantal Incandala


Rick Breyer

Jacob Brewer

Eric Carranza 

Bailey Kayser

Ethan Brown

G Schmedeke


Hannah Lanning


Tyler Mcfarland

* UMSL Faculty





Will Carson
Xyonna Kyles


       Briala Smith
        Cherish Humphrey
        Eloise Stock
        Makyah Cotton
        Max Corey

        Sam Wade
        America Brown
        Maliah Williams

Alto Saxophone

        Tamekio Ross
        Calvin Gilbert
        Najee Muhammad


Tenor Saxophone

        Drew Meyer

       Baritone Saxophone

       Tyler McFarland


Adam Darek
Aliseah Merridith


London Morrow


C.L. Vasser


James Blackmon
Marcus Johnson


Bruce Aubuchon
Tristen Kirkman
Davon Hudson
Demetrius Riggans 
Shadrach Burks
Rodney Brook


bottom of page