2010 Tour of Southern Carlifornia (Walt Disney Concert Hall)
Sixty-seven Cal Poly student musicians, six members of the Music Department faculty and staff, two former students and two guests from the community began a five-day concert tour of southern California on Friday, June 18, that ended with a “Showcase Concert” in the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles on June 22. The Cal Poly Wind Ensemble was the featured ensemble for the 2010 Los Angeles International Music Festival, a festival of wind bands and symphony orchestras from several nations including China and Singapore.
The tour repertoire included Millennium Canons by Kevin Puts, Concertino for Piano Winds and Percussion by Kamillo Lendvay, William T. Spiller, piano soloist, Concerto for Percussion by Joseph Schwantner, John Astaire, percussion soloist, Bach’s Fugue á La Gigue by Gustav Holst, Stitches in Time by Cal Poly professor Meredith Brammeier, Postcard by Frank Ticheli and Polka and Fugue from Schwanda the Bagpiper by Jaromier Weinberger.
The five-day concert tour began with a Friday night “Home Concert” at the newly constructed Performing Arts Center at Cuesta College. Jennifer Martin, conductor of the Cuesta Wind Ensemble, lead us in Frank Ticheli’s Postcard. On Saturday, the group traveled to Irvine Valley College, in Irvine, CA. After a sound check in their concert hall, we were treated to a dinner sponsored by the Irvine Valley College Wind Symphony (IVCWS). The IVCWS began the concert and the Cal Poly Wind Ensemble performed the second half of the program. IVCWS conductor, Stephen Rochford, conducted Frank Ticheli’s Postcard. The hall was filled to capacity. After the concert, the group checked into the Clarion Hotel Resort in Anaheim.
Sunday morning and afternoon were free time and many of the students travelled to Venice Beach for some time in the sun and many went to Disneyland, just next door to our hotel. On Sunday evening the group was treated to dinner at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney. After dinner, there was a rehearsal in the hotel ballroom.
Monday was a free day. We certainly needed the rest and relaxation.
On Tuesday, the group traveled to Los Angeles for its sound-check and photo session in the Walt Disney Concert Hall. After the sound-check the ensemble walked to the California Pizza Kitchen for dinner and the faculty and our CEO, Matthew Webb, went to the roof of a LA high rise for a reception sponsored by the Cal Poly Alumni Association. Matt made a wonderful speech about his experience as a member of the Wind Ensemble and Dean Linda Halisky spoke about the various accomplishments of the Music Department as well as some stories about Cal Poly’s Director of Bands. Afterwards, we all returned to the Concert Hall to prepare for the big performance.
The evening “Showcase Concert” was performed to a capacity crowd with almost 500 of the 2,265 seats in the hall occupied by alumni and family and friends of the Cal Poly Wind Ensemble. It was a very emotional occasion for me. After 43 years serving as Cal Poly’s Director of Bands, this was my last performance with the Wind Ensemble. The Disney Hall concert included a performance of Dr. Meredith Brammeier’s Stitches in Time a work that was written for the Disney Hall concert. Dr. Lawrence Sutherland, Director of Bands Emeritus from Fresno State University and Artistic Director for the Los Angeles International Music Festival conducted the ensemble in Bach’s Fugue á La Gigue by Gustav Holst. Two former members of the Wind Ensemble were in charge of the Concerto for Percussion by Joseph Schwantner, Dr. Anna Binneweg was the conductor and Dr. John Astaire was the percussion soloist. They were classmates at Cal Poly. Professor Christopher Woodruff, Associate Director of Bands, conducted the ensemble in the Concertino for Piano Winds and Percussion by Kamillo Lendvay. William T. Spiller, Cal Poly’s Music Department Chair, was the piano soloist. Dr. Alyson McLamore served as the page-turner for the soloist. The concert concluded by featuring organist Paul Woodring in the Polka and Fugue from Schwanda the Bagpiper by Jaromier Weinberger. As we performed this powerful work for winds, percussion and organ, I couldn’t help but notice the extra effort the ensemble was giving as they put their heart and soul into the performance of this work. It was the end for me and some seniors, and the beginning of a new era for most of them. The audience response was the most enthusiastic I have ever experienced. An awards ceremony followed.
Len Kawamoto, Assistant Director of the Mustang Band, performed with the horn section and former Department Head, Clifton Swanson, joined the ensemble as an additional string bass player. Former student Neil Jansen performed with the euphonium section and Professor Woodruff played in the trumpet section when he wasn’t conducting. All of this strengthened the ensemble.
It was very exciting to have two former members of the Wind Ensemble lead the ensemble in the very powerful Concerto for Percussion by Joseph Schwantner.
Conducting was Anna Binneweg. Anna received her Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Cal Poly in 1998. After receiving two Masters degrees from Southern Methodist University and her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in orchestral conducting at Northwestern University, she made her conducting debut at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra in the 2005 National Conducting Institute. She presently serves as one of the orchestra’s cover conductors. She has worked with conductors such as Leonard Slatkin, Daniel Barenboim, Robert Spano, James Paul, Michael Morgan, Duaine Wolfe, Nurhan Arman and David Effron through various engagements sponsored by the League of American Orchestras, the Conductors Guild, the Conductors Institute of New York and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. She distinguished herself in the areas of symphonic an operatic conducting early in her career. She is the music director/conductor of the Anne Arundel Community College Symphony Orchestra (Arnold, MD) where she also serves as assistant professor of music, and is the newly appointed music director/conductor of the Londontowne Symphony Orchestra (Edgewater, MD). In Chicago, she is the music director/conductor of OperaModa, a company committed to producing and performing modern American opera featuring local young artists.
Performing as the percussion soloist was John Astaire. John earned his doctor of music degree in percussion performance from Indiana University. Astaire is originally from California, and obtained his bachelor of arts in music from Cal Poly in 1998. While at Cal Poly he participated in the Wind Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble. His primary teachers included Gerald Carlyss and Kenneth Watson, under whom he also studied the Hungarian cimbalom. Astaire has been a guest with several musical ensembles across the United States, as well as a performer at the Cimbalom World Association's 2003 World Congress, held at Appenzell, Switzerland.
On behalf of the students and faculty of the Cal Poly Bands, I want to express my appreciation to you, President Warren Baker, Dean Linda Halisky, and to many other members of the Cal Poly administration, the Music Department Faculty and Staff, and to our many wonderful students and our devoted friends and alumni for helping us to make this extraordinary project a reality. We especially want to thank Jesse and Delia Norris for traveling with us and helping to support some of the students who needed some financial assistance.
We encountered nothing but full and genuine support for this important endeavor. It is my hope that this short report will give you a feeling for what we experienced.
William V. Johnson, Professor Emeritus
Director of Bands (1966-2010)