Bakersfield Winds conductor John Biller can't believe the ensemble is starting its 10th season this weekend.
"It's kind of amazing to most of us that we've been doing this for 10 years," Biller said.
The Bakersfield Winds will launch its 10th concert season Monday evening with an eclectic mix of classic compositions and newer works of music ranging from quiet and introspective to the heroic in scope.
After opening with the "Star-Spangled Banner," the wind ensemble will perform film composer and orchestrator Rossano Galante's "Resplendent Glory," a big, showy piece noted for its fanfares and flourishes. Galante, who studied composition with famed movie composer Jerry Goldsmith, has arranged scores for dozens of films, including "Live Free or Die Hard," "3:10 to Yuma," "Tuesdays with Morrie," and many other films.
Originally scored for unaccompanied male voices, Franz Biebl's "Ave Maria" is a lovely, quiet work that features the woodwinds in a layering of harmonies. Other quiet moments in the program include vintage music by Percy Grainger, "Ye Banks and Braes, O Bonnie Doon" and Frank Ticheli's "Loch Lomond," arrangements of two famous Scottish melodies that also show off the woodwinds.
Alfred Reed's "Alleluia! Laudamus Te," and Clifton Williams' classic "The Sinfonians" show off all the sections of the ensemble. "Alleluia! Laudamus Te" was described by the composer as a "canticle of praise without words," in which three distinct musical themes alternate, showing off the various sections of the ensemble. "The Sinfonians," based on a melody by Sir Arthur Sullivan, is a wind ensemble standard that harkens back to its military band beginnings. The concert will conclude with the Symphonic Suite from "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Episode 1" by John Williams.
The 2012-13 concert season also includes a spring concert, a concert of small ensemble music, and a patriotic concert in the summer. Biller said the Bakersfield Winds has been a labor of love.
"I used to affectionately call (the wind ensemble) 'the garage band,'" Biller said. "We were a bunch of musicians getting together to rehearse music."
"From the get-go, it's just continued to grow and flourish," Biller said. "Everybody that's in the group is doing it for the love of it."
Biller said part of that growth is due to the ensemble's waiting list of musicians ready to join, or at least fill in for absent regulars.
"There's really not an audition for the group," Biller said. "It's really a contact of who we know is a qualified player."
Equally important has been the growth of community support, including sponsorships and a growing audience.