Sunday, January 25, 2009

Birth of a Wind Ensemble

“It’s something that wind players in Humboldt County have been talking about for ten years,” Ken Ayoob recalls. But a real wind ensemble demands thirty or more players. It just didn’t seem possible.

Now it's more than possible--it's happening. On Sunday, January 25, the North Coast Wind Ensemble, featuring 33 local community instrumentalists—university and high school music teachers, HSU Music graduates and players for the Eureka Symphony—presents its first concert in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

“It’s a great group, and we’re having a lot of fun,” Ayoob said. “These are all accomplished musicians, and it’s a crackerjack ensemble. Audiences haven’t heard anything like this here before.”

The enterprise got started when clarinetist and former HSU Music student Heather Benson called Ayoob, also a clarinetist and her former HSU teacher. She wanted to explore the ensemble idea, and asked him to lend his name as potential conductor. He agreed, they traded names of possible players, and Benson started calling. Those who responded enthusiastically also suggested other names, and after an organizational meeting, rehearsals began.

The debut program is designed to show what a wind ensemble can do. “We want to showcase all the various moods and dynamics and sounds you can get from a wind ensemble,” Ayoob said. “A lot of people haven’t had the opportunity to hear that.”

This first evening features a masterwork of the wind literature (Lincolnshire Posy by Percy Grainger), a prominent contemporary piece (Blue Shades by Frank Ticheli) and familiar melodies (such as selections from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.)

“And if you’re going to be a band, you have to do marches,” Ayoob said. Other selections include Reflections by California composer Roger Nixon, which features principal flautist Jill Petricca, and Leonard Bernstein’s Overture to Candide.

Apart from the quality of the musicians, what makes this ensemble different is that there is one player to a part. “That makes for a real clarity—very clear textures and timbres, clean intonation and a lot of individual responsibilities,” Ayoob said. “Also it’s often more fun for the players when there’s just one to a part.”

“One of my hopes is that our audience will include high school and middle school and even college students who play wind instruments, so they can hear what this sounds like.”

As for the future of the new North Coast Wind Ensemble, Sunday’s audience may witness the beginning of what Ayoob hopes “will be a longstanding institution.” The concert begins at 8 p.m. on Sunday, January 25 at 8 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. $5 general, $2 students and seniors from HSU ticket office(826-3928) or at the door. Benefit for the HSU Music Department scholarship fund; Ken Ayoob, conductor.


For its first concert, the North Coast Wind Ensemble will be: Jill Petricca, April Sousa, Liz Souza (flute); Virginia Ryder, Susan Sisk (oboe); Heather Benson, Paul Cummings, Erin Dunning, Jamie Parisi, Gwen Gastineau-Ayoob (clarinet); Jeremy Cotton, Chris Larsen, Bruce McCay, Matt Machen (saxophone); Aaron Lopez, Justin Sousa (bassoon); Ronite Gluck, Matthew Morgan, Val Phillips, Mike Thompson (horn); Burt Codispoti, John Ferreira, Oshi Jager, Jennifer Reiske (trumpet); Scott Machen, Toshi Naguchi, Phil Samms (trombone;) George Ritscher (euphonium); Fred Tempas (tuba); Andrea Benson, Ken Burton, Rebekah Zdunich, Jonathan Kipp (percussion.)

The Program:

Pieces to be performed include: Overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein, Lincolnshire Posy by Percy Grainger, Selections from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin, In Storm and Sunshine by J.C. Heed, October by Eric Whitacre, Reflections by Roger Nixon (featuring principal flautist Jill Petricca) and Blue Shades by Frank Ticheli.

Media: Arcata Eye, North Coast Journal, Eureka Times-Standard Northern Lights, Humboldt State Now.

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