Bakersfield Winds (copy)

The Bakersfield Winds will open its concert season Monday at St. John's Lutheran Church.

I just love the Bakersfield Winds. For 16 years, multiple generations of brass and woodwind players and percussionists have been rehearsing and performing not only for their own enjoyment, but to inspire others, or as the ensemble’s president, Scott Smith, explained it, “to be an inspiration to both our local students and their teachers.”

The Bakersfield Winds will start its 17th season, with its fall concert Monday at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Working under the concept of being a symphonic wind ensemble, the group continually chooses a challenging repertoire that explores all the possibilities of sound that brass, woodwinds and percussion can produce. Monday evening’s concert program is a perfect example: Vincent Persechetti’s “Pageant;” Clifton Williams’ Symphonic Dances #3 —“Fiesta;” “Chase the Shouting Wind” by Vince Gassi; “Dartmoor, 1912” by John Williams; Kenneth Alford’s “Colonel Bogey March”; and “‘La Péri’ Fanfare” by Paul Dukas.

The brilliant Persechetti was a 20th-century musical prodigy who composed for every musical genre, including 14 for wind ensembles, making him one of the most important contributors to the repertoire.

The tone poem, “Pageant,” a great example, is divided into two sections. The first sends long phrases and chordal harmonies throughout the different choirs of instruments; the second challenges the ear with polytonality — multiple keys existing at the same time.

Dukas is best-known to many from his piece “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” but the fanfare from his ballet “La Péri,” a ballet inspired by a Persian legend of Alexander (Iksender in Persian) the Great, and his search for immortality is also notable.

Vince Gassi’s “Chase the Shouting Wind,” is inspired by the famous poem, “High Flight,” and attempts to capture the feeling of flight with a continuous driving motion.

Movie fans will recognize John Williams’ music from the film, “War Horse.” “Darmoor, 1912,” combines Celtic folk tunes with original music that carries the listener through the events of the World War I story.

Moviegoers will also recognize the famous opening theme of the “Colonel Bogey March.” Composed in 1914 by British Army bandmaster Lt. F.J. Ricketts under the name Kenneth J. Alford, the music became world-famous in 1957 when it became the theme song for the film “Bridge on the River Kwai.”

Smith said the ensemble routinely picks music that local school groups are performing, and try to be a musical “balance” from the intensity of the football season.

As much as the group tries to inspire younger players and teachers, every once in a while, the veteran players get a needed boost.

“We all so enjoyed hearing the U.S. Marine Corps Band perform last month,” Scott wrote in an email. “It has motivated many of our members to play better than ever.”

As much as the group enjoys performing the music for its own sake, and to inspire music teachers and their students, Smith noted that there is an even bigger picture.

“We are striving to keep the heritage of the American Wind Band alive and accessible for our local community to enjoy,” Smith wrote.

Susan Scaffidi is a freelance music journalist. She can be reached at

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