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Although Alyssa Wiley ‘05 (Clarks Summit, Pa.) has a strong background in music, she chose to pursue a degree in chemical engineering. But the rigor of her studies hasn’t diminished her musical aptitude, and she will represent Lafayette as a member of the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Band March 11-13 at Susquehanna University.

Wiley will be one of 18-20 students playing the clarinet in the 125-member band, which brings together the best college musicians in Pennsylvania.

“It’s such an honor to be selected. It’s wonderful to think I’m among the top clarinetists in the state,” she says.

“This is a big accomplishment; it’s like a student presenting a paper at a national conference,” says James Moyer, associate professor of music and director of bands.

Selected to participate in county, district, and regional bands in high school and as principal clarinetist of the Youth Symphonic Orchestra of Scranton, Wiley had the credentials to gain admission to the top music schools in the country, according to Moyer.

Early on she knew she wanted to focus on either music or engineering once she entered college.

“I love them both, but I chose chemical engineering because I wanted to challenge myself,” says Wiley. “With chemistry in high school, I really had to think; it was difficult. And I liked that.”

Music, on the other hand, comes naturally.

“It’s what I do,” she says. “It’s a release.”

Wiley, who is pursuing a minor in music, is a member of the Concert Band and Pep Band. Prior to the Intercollegiate Band performance, she will audition for seat placement with her fellow clarinetists. It’s a competition she is eagerly awaiting.

“I’d like to represent Lafayette in the best light possible. My goal is to come out of the audition room feeling I performed well,” she says.

Wiley is still suffering the effects of an automobile accident that occurred the first week of classes. She sees playing an instrument in itself as one goal she has already achieved. The accident left her with multiple compound fractures of four bones in her right hand and in a cast for 7 ½ weeks. So severe was the injury that doctors told her she might never play again. Though Wiley likes to challenge herself, this was one challenge she could have done without.

“I have lost a little speed and dexterity,” she says. “My goal throughout the whole [recovery] was to play as soon as possible, to be back in the bands at Lafayette.”

She resumed playing the day after the cast came off and is now preparing for the highlight of her musical career.

“[The Intercollegiate Band] will be the best band she has ever played in, maybe the best she will ever play in,” says Moyer, noting that it will be conducted by Englishman Geoffrey Brand, one of the premier band conductors in the world.

“[Her selection to Intercollegiate Band] speaks volumes for Lafayette’s music program,” says Moyer. “This puts us on the map for high school students who want to play in college and will give us visibility.”

“The neat thing about Lafayette for students like Alyssa is that it gives them the flexibility to do whatever they want to do,” he adds. “They can construct their own major. They can be in a music group, or more than one group; they can take lessons, or they can be in every ensemble there is. They can be as involved as they want to be.”

Wiley will be the first representative in nearly 20 years from Lafayette, which has added several full-time faculty positions to the music department in recent years and expanded its music curriculum.

“This is our first year back [in the Intercollegiate Band],” Moyer says. “Every year we’ll want to make a bigger impression. We want to have one of the best bands in the state, and Alyssa will have spearheaded this.”

Categorized in: Academic News