Fresno State hosts 40th annual Wind Festival

The College of Arts and Humanities Music Building. (Marilyn Castaneda/The Collegian)

The Fresno State Concert Hall hosted the 40th annual Dr. Lawrence R. Sutherland Wind Festival from March 15 through 17.

Its March 16 showing featured a performance by Fresno Pacific University’s Symphonic Band, the Fresno State Wind Orchestra and special guest conductor Sutherland for an audience that filled more than half the hall.

The Symphonic Band opened up the evening gala concert with conductor Dr. Eric Leung.

They performed in honor of the late David Maslanka for his dedication to the band. Maslanka died two years ago, and his last work was with the band.

Members of the audience watched the hand movement of the conductor and nodded their heads to the music.

The audience applauded the band loudly after its performance. Leung received a gift basket and a conducting baton for being a part of the festival.

Next, Donald Barley, a Fresno State Wind Orchestra performer majoring in music education, and who started playing the trumpet in the fourth grade was featured. Barley said he was influenced by many teachers who had encouraged him to reach out and inspire others.

“After college, I would really want to give back to another community, especially middle school,” Barley said. “I feel like that is a turning point where a musician wants to keep going. If you are inspired in middle school, I feel like you are more willing to continue with music education.”

One audience member cheered, “Wow,” after the Fresno State performance.

Jonathan Nunez, a freshman in the orchestra, said he grew up moving around the country but played in his high school and middle school bands.

Nunez continued playing music because he said it was the only program that stayed the same for him.

“Music is … another form of expression. It’s very important,” Nunez said.

The Fresno State performers received applause after their show that continued for more than a minute, until conductor Dr. Gary Gilroy signaled a pause.

Bailey Roberts, a member of the orchestra majoring in music performance, said she was excited to perform at Fresno State.

Roberts said she had played percussion throughout junior high and high school, before joining the wind and symphony orchestras at Fresno State.

“This is the best band at the university that I am performing in,” Roberts said. “I am proud to be part of that.”

Sutherland, who served as director of bands and professor of music at Fresno State from 1969 until 2006, was inspired by students in the Jazz Band A, who knew of other college jazz ensembles, because they gathered at jazz festivals.

Sutherland wanted the Wind Ensemble to have the same opportunity to develop an interest in other similar ensembles.

The festival began in 1981 as the Western States Collegiate Wind Festival.

It now gives middle school, high school and collegiate ensembles an opportunity to perform. The festival also features well-known individuals in the music community from across the country who critique the performances and offer advice and consultation to the bands.

“It’s just a real pleasure and joy [conducting students],” said Gilroy, Fresno State director of bands and a music professor.

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