Meet Robyn Card with the Tidewater Winds

Musician Robyn Card explains how music can make a difference in people’s lives.

For over thirty-five years, Tidewater Winds has served as the premier, professional, non-profit Concert Band in Hampton Roads. With support from local arts commissions, donors, and foundations, the 55-piece ensemble provides free summer concerts to the Hampton Roads community, traveling their themed programs across the Tidewater region. The Winds provide an education program, community engagement, and summer employment for musicians. One of those musicians is professional trumpet player, Robyn Card.

TW: What is your principal instrument? Tell us about your journey.

RC: I began playing the cornet when I was in the sixth grade. My family was heavily involved in music. My mother was a church choir director, and all of my siblings either played an instrument or sang in the choir. When my family moved to the Virginia Beach area, I participated in the Brandon Middle School and Green Run High School Bands. I entered James Madison University as an accounting major, but soon realized that I wanted to teach music as it was such a big part of my life.

I graduated with a music education degree and taught band in the public schools for five years before going back to school to work on my master’s degree. I continued to teach and perform after that and ultimately chose to obtain a doctorate in trumpet performance at West Virginia University.

I have had the great fortune to perform in a variety of ensembles including symphony orchestras, concert bands, jazz bands, brass quintets, and other groups. Local to this area, I have performed in the Virginia Wind Symphony, the Tidewater Winds, Symphonicity, the Virginia and Richmond symphonies, and the Chesapeake Bay Wind Ensemble.

I have performed with several brass groups including Protocol Brass and the Eastern Virginia Brass Quintet. I perform quite a bit in area churches including First Presbyterian Church in Virginia Beach, First Baptist Church, and Royster Church in Norfolk, and Main Street United Methodist in Suffolk.

TW: How long have you performed with Tidewater Winds Concert Band?

RC: My husband and I returned to the Tidewater area in 2002. Through performing in the Virginia Wind Symphony, I met Renae Adrian, a professional trumpeter, and we became very good friends. She was the principal trumpet player in Tidewater Winds at the time and encouraged me to join the ensemble. I joined in 2003 and have been playing with them ever since.

The conductor was Alberto Roman Ascercion, a very talented, retired navy musician. Following his tenure, John Brewington became the conductor. I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the musicians who were a mix of public school music teachers, military, and professional musicians, and student interns. The programs were challenging, yet entertaining. Through the years, I have made some very good friends through performing in the Winds.

TW: You are once again performing as a Concert Band member in the upcoming December 9th Holiday Concert “Peace On Earth” at Sandler Center for the Performing Arts. Of the repertoire performed for both the Winds free summer concerts and the upcoming holiday ticketed concert… what is your favorite repertoire to play?

RC: I enjoy performing a variety of repertoire but appreciate the opportunity to play music in the tradition of John Philip Sousa concert bands. His programming included music that was artistically challenging for the musicians but easily understood by the audience. Sousa’s concerts would usually feature a solo instrumentalist or singer. The Tidewater Winds follows the same format. There is usually something for everyone.

My favorite portion of the program is the closing where we honor each branch of the military by performing each of the armed forces songs, and then end with our nation’s march, the Stars and Stripes Forever. I have seen veterans break down in tears when we play that music.  I believe the time we take to honor our military and our nation during every concert is one of the reasons our audiences return year after year.

TW: Undoubtedly, music is an integral part of your life and, I would argue, an important part of all people’s lives. What do you think it is about music that is so moving and inspiring? 

RC: Music provides an opportunity to escape from the regular stressors of our daily lives. Listening to music can take us out of ourselves for short periods of time and can help us to work through our emotions. Good memories are often tied to particular songs. Music can bring together people of various backgrounds. 

As a performer, you never really know how you can affect the audience.  I remember performing in a church service many years ago. I was tired and going through a rough patch, but was there in church, playing music. During a portion of the service where people in the congregation would stand and share, a woman stood and said she had lost her husband earlier that week. She said that the special music provided by the brass group had really touched and helped her that day. I never forgot that lady. She taught me that as a performer, you never know if there is someone listening who really needs to hear your music. I was humbled by what she said and from that point forward, I try to focus and pray before every concert or performance that the music will help someone who needs it to feel better. 

Tidewater Winds provides free summer concerts as part of its regular season. An annual holiday ticketed concert will be held on December 9th at 7:30 pm at Sandler Center for the Performing Arts under the baton of Maestro John Brewington and featuring guest artists the Regent University Singers. Tickets are available through the Sandler Center Box Office at 757-385-2787. Visit www.tidewaterwinds.org for more details.

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