Jun 01, 2020

Wind Festival blows the lid off Fresno State

Music filled the air last weekend as Fresno State celebrated its 34th annual Dr. Lawrence R. Sutherland Wind Festival in the music building’s Concert Hall.

High schools and junior high schools along with several college bands came for the opportunity to perform in front of four well-known composers and conductors for critique and advice.

The festival ran all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The participating schools were from all over California.

Gary Gilroy, the director of bands, has been in charge of the event since acquiring his position seven years ago.

“I had been a high school band director and thought, ‘This would be a great recruiting event to get these high school kids on our campus and see what a beautiful campus we have,’” Gilroy said. “Why not bring them on campus and have an educational event for them?”

The judges also came from all over the country. Albert Ngyuyen, Patrick Winters and William Johnson have all had experience as director of bands at their respective universities. Joel Levy is the music department chairman for East Meadow High School in Long Island, NY. Levy also has played in Broadway performances such as “Fosse,” “Little Women,” “Sweet Charity and Young Frankenstein.”

The students perform in front of the judges who then take the bands to a private room and give a personal critique of their performance for 40 minutes before the next band takes the stage.

“They don’t give them a score,” Gilroy said. “ They don’t even give them a rating. They just give them comments on how they can get better.”

Fresno State bands also perform alongside the other schools as well as help organize the event.

Performances varied throughout the weekend. Some involved hours of prior practice, while one particular concert was made up of only a few hours with the four judges before heading out to the stage in front of an audience.

William Melendez, a member of the CSU, Fresno Wind Orchestra and part- time announcer for the event, loves the event for the promotion of music across the state and Valley.

“When you’re performing literature like this, it’s nice to experience the music, let loose and getting critiqued and listening to a lot of great groups,” Melendez said.

The addition of middle schools to the Wind Festival this year brought another element to the concerts.

“When you’re that young and you see someone playing your instrument that’s a lot older, you get inspired,” Melendez said. “We do it to bring them here so they can see it and fall in love with it.”

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