Wind ensembles to play at weekend festival

In Arts & Entertainment, Music
Courtesy of the University Wind Symphony
Courtesy of the University Wind Symphony

About 1,400 high school musicians will be on campus to perform at the 7th annual Cal State Fullerton Wind Ensemble Festival this weekend.

Meng Concert Hall, which seats 800, will invite 28 of the best high school wind bands of Southern California.

The Friday and Saturday all-day event, from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days, promises an array of musical selections.

High school bands will perform music ranging from slow ballads and marches to dance, classical, Latin influence and programmatic pieces and more.

The two-day festival will also feature CSUF’s top ensembles, the Symphonic Winds and the University Wind Symphony, both directed by music professor Mitch J. Fennell, Ph.D.

“We hope that they (high school students) will be able to use our performances as models of what they could be striving for in their school music programs,” said Fennell.

The Wind Symphony will perform works by contemporary American composers including “Overture for Winds” by Felix Mendelssohn, “Baron Cimetiere’s Mambo” by Donald Grantham and “Child’s Garden of Dreams” by David Maslanka.

The Wind Symphony, comprised of the finest upper division and graduate music students, has toured worldwide and has performed in national conventions in Japan, as well as Western Regional Conferences in California.

The Symphonic Winds, made up of mostly lower division music students, will focus on works carefully selected based on the success and improvement of the students.

Their repertoire will feature “Fanfare for the Vienna Philharmonic” by Richard Strauss, “Sea Songs” by Ralph Vaughan Williams and “King Fishers Catch Fire” by John Mackey.

“Students are selected and ranked based on technical proficiency, artistry and sight reading ability on their major instrument,” Fennel said.

William Fritz and Jason Lomeda, both graduate assistants for Fennel, acknowledge the bands’ expertise and dedication to the music program.

Lomeda noted that the Wind Symphony and Symphonic Winds go through a process of what conductors call “score studying.”

Both bands balance and blend the sound of each ensemble, while bringing out the expressive content of each piece to understand at a deeper level the musical intent of the composer, according to Lomeda.

“That is one thing the average audience member will tend to overlook,” said Lomeda, “is the amount of time and preparation it takes, and not just from the conductor, but for every musician in an ensemble.”

The Wind Ensemble Festival showcases the best of the best CSUF has to offer.

“The CSUF Band Festival is a great opportunity for all high schools to perform in one of the best concert halls in Southern California,” Lomeda said.

It acts as a gateway for high school students to start taking interest in CSUF’s Music Department.

Nathan King, 18, a music performance major pursuing jazz studies, played at last year’s Wind Ensemble Festival as a senior for Savannah High School in Anaheim. He is now in his first year at CSUF playing saxophone for the Symphonic Winds ensemble.

King remembers the acoustic aesthetic and the overall “high-end” attractiveness of the grand Meng Hall that drew his interest in the Music Department.

“I would say it’s a dream come true. Last year I was just a highschool student watching the Symphonic Winds and Windy Symphony play. Now I’m in that top group, playing the same difficult music as everyone else,” King said.

Experienced CSUF musicians all agree that they most look forward to hearing the high school bands play.

“When you hear a great high school ensemble in your own backyard, it is a reminder that music education is still important in Southern California,” Fritz said.

Lomeda hopes that the high school students will remember the festival as a defining point in their career as musicians.

“I hope that the audience understands how great of a music department we have at CSUF and becomes inspired to explore the opportunities that, not only CSUF has to offer, but colleges in general and the arts have to offer,” he said.

The two-day music festival is free of charge.

For information on the Wind Ensemble Festival visit the College of Arts calendar page at

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