Wind Festival brings more than 1,500 student musicians to campus

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Wind Festival brings more than 1,500 student musicians to campus

The 38th annual Lawrence R. Sutherland Wind Festival will bring more than 1,500 music students to the Fresno State campus March 24 through 26. Musicians will come from three middle schools, 16 high schools, three junior colleges and five four-year universities, including Fresno State.

Dr. Lynnette Zelezny

Dr. Lynnette Zelezny

The Evening Gala Concert, at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 25, will feature the Fresno State Wind Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Gary P. Gilroy, performing Aaron Copland’s “A Lincoln Portrait.” Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, Fresno State’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, will do the narration.

“It is a dream for me to participate alongside brilliant musical artists in this extraordinary performance of ‘A Lincoln Portrait’ at Fresno State,” Zelezny said. “I am very humbled.  It makes me quiver to read the timeless words of our revered 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.”

The Sonoma State University Wind Ensemble, conducted by Dr. Andy Collinsworth, will also perform.

The three-day festival is named in honor of Sutherland, who established the event. Sutherland was Fresno State’s director of bands from 1969 to 2006.

“The reason I started the wind festival,” Sutherland said, “was because I wanted the students in the band to be able to hear other university bands perform. Under normal circumstances, they could go through the whole four or five years and never hear another university band, and I thought it was important for them to have that experience.”

Concerts begin at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, March 24, and continue throughout the day in half-hour increments in the Concert Hall, ending at 9:30 p.m. Saturday’s concert schedule goes from 1 to 5 p.m. On Sunday, concerts go from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Doors open 15 minutes before the concerts begin.

Participating bands are encouraged to watch performances by other schools over the course of the three days they are on campus. For their performances, bands don’t receive scores or prizes — their reward is education, comments and feedback from the celebrity judges that Gilroy recruits each year.

This year’s judges are Andrea DeRenzis Strauss, conductor of the Tara Winds Community Band in Georgia; Dr. John Cody Birdwell, director of bands at the University of Kentucky; Michael Coburn, director of bands for Butler University; and Dr. Timothy Mahr, a professor of music at St. Olaf College.

“There’s nothing like this,” Gilroy said. “The festival keeps growing each year. There has been a waiting list for this year’s event since last August. They don’t get a trophy or a rating. They are here because they want to make their bands better. The students make great music together.”

The festival will conclude on Sunday with a 3 p.m. concert featuring the Dr. Lawrence R. Sutherland High School Honor Band and Wind Festival Orchestra. Students had to apply to be part of the honor band, with about 100 students selected.

Tickets for the Gala Concert are $15 general admission and $10 for students and seniors. Admission to all other concerts during the festival, via a hand stamp, can be gained with an $8 general admission ticket or $5 for students and seniors.

For more information, contact Gilroy at 559.278.2489 or garygi@csufresno.edu.