The sound of instruments warmed the air in the Fullerton College Campus Theatre Thursday, Dec. 3, as the audience waited to be taken on an unexpected journey by the Symphonic Winds.
Both the group and the audience hushed as conductor Anthony Mazzaferro quietly stepped on stage to take his place at the podium.
With a wave of Mazzaferro’s baton, the group of musicians set into their first piece of the night entitled “Psalm for Band” by Vincent Persichetti. The arrangement allowed for a wide range of voices across the group to be heard when the melody was traded off section by section.
But the night didn’t stop there. French horn player, Garrett Berge, was welcomed to the podium to conduct Alfred Reed’s “A Festival Prelude.” The group easily followed Berge’s count, which featured a bright entrance of trumpets that slowed down into a low mix of both clarinets and horns. The song gave an overall majestic feel to the theatre.
The Symphonic Winds took the audience on an ocean voyage with “From Atlanta to the Sea” by Frank Duarte. The band was successful in painting a picture for the audience through their music. It allowed everyone to immerse themselves in the feeling of working on the deck of a ship with the bright contrast between the higher woodwinds.
“Frank Durate was a student here several years ago.” revealed Mazzaferro. Durate is an award-winning composer who earned his Associate of Arts degree at Fullerton College before going on to earn his Bachelor of Music degree in composition at the California State University of Northridge. Durante is currently working on earning his Master’s degree from the School of Music at the Jordan College of the Arts at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The night continued with Jonah Stoffers serenading the audience on alto saxophone in Bernard Heiden’s “Diversion”.
“He’s a fine student,” said Mazzaferro regarding Stoffers, who plays in the Fullerton College Jazz Band directed by Bruce Babad. “I invited Jonah to play it with us on one of our two concerts this fall and we agreed on Dec. 3.”
Backed by a few members of the Symphonic Winds, Stoffers played a compelling performance with rich and soaring runs.
The night then transitioned into a much darker air when the performance continued on with “The Inferno,” by Robert W. Smith. Conducted by clarinet player Emmanuel Arredondo, the sound was heavy and loud while it painted out the picture of Dante’s journey through hell.
“If you’re familiar with Dante’s Inferno and the story about that, this piece is actually just the first movement of a set of works from Robert W. Smith,” said Arredondo. “He tells the story through music of going into hell and seeing some very big demons, then trying to make a run for it.”
The piece really had the audience gripping their seats through the ride and gave the performance a round of applause when it was all over.
“So now that we’ve gone into the inferno,” said Mazzaferro, “we’re going to do the opposite and head towards heaven.” Conducted by David Lopez, the Symphonic Winds soared into Francis McBeth’s “Kaddish.” The piece featured an angelic woodwind sound that was accompanied by a bass drum beat resembling a human heartbeat.
The high of the night was the band’s rendition of “Pompeii” by Satoshi Yagisawa. The song took everyone on a journey through the bustling streets of Pompeii with the lively sounds across the group, but it quickly turned dark as if an earthquake hit and volcano erupted from the slow rumble of the bass drum and bursting sounds of trumpets.
Audience member Vicky Gamarra explained that “Pompeii” was her favorite part of the night and expressed her thoughts on Mazzaferro.
“Dr. Mazzaferro is absolutely wonderful. The kids love him. He’s the best. You couldn’t really ask for any better either,” she said.
The night tied up with the “The Diplomat,” by John Philip Sousa. The piece featured a march-like style that left the air light and happy.
The entire night was filled with very diverse pieces that successfully showcased the musicianship of all the performers in the Symphonic Winds.