Bakersfield Winds president Scott Smith said it’s good to be back home, and the all-wind music ensemble will celebrate that with the first concert of their 2018-19 season Monday at Valley Baptist Church's Olive Drive campus.
“We’re back in the newly remodeled Celebration Hall and it’s just outstanding,” Smith said.
Smith said the wind ensemble, which began 16 years ago performing in the church’s main worship center, has been living a somewhat nomadic life for the last couple of years while the remodeling continued — performing at Independence High School and at St. John’s Lutheran Church.
“We're (now) playing in a place that’s just made for wind ensemble, with that big resonant space and the organ,” Smith said.
The concert wind ensemble is a descendant of the military marching band, and the post-Civil War peace time tradition of band concerts. This reached its apex under John Philip Sousa, first as director of the U.S. Marine Corps band and then as director of his own wind band, both of which toured the world playing his world-famous marches.
Monday’s program will of course include a Sousa march: “Hands Across the Water,” Sousa’s musical salute to all of America’s friends around the world. The rest of the program is devoted to demonstrating the full range of the wind band, now more commonly called a wind ensemble or symphonic band, as the repertoire has expanded the concept of the wind ensemble into a more orchestral role, with a growing repertoire that included not just marches and works written for orchestra re-arranged for winds, but new music written expressly for wind ensemble.
Smith said the most important example of this is the "Divertimento for Band" by American composer Vincent Persichetti, written in 1949-50, the first of several the composer wrote for wind ensemble.
“The Persichetti era was a big one for wind ensemble,” Smith said. “This is when the wind band moved from the Sousa model to playing these big orchestra pieces.”
The Bakersfield Winds will also perform Brian Balmages’ “Joy in All Things," “The Witch and the Saint” by Steven Reineke, an arrangement of Eric Whitacre’s popular choral work “Lux Aurumque” and a wind version of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s score for the 1940 film “The Sea Hawk.”
The Bakersfield Winds was started some 16 years ago to promote the wind ensemble repertoire and also to give local wind players a chance to play together. Smith noted that the ensemble includes a large number of music professionals, especially music educators at all grade levels, but also nonprofessionals — what the organization describes as those who make up “the local Kern County trade and professional communities."
“The ones were most proud of,” Smith said. “They love what they do, and they’ve never left music.”