Wind Festival brings more than 1,500 student musicians to Fresno State

Wind Orchestra

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

161104Portrait011The 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, 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,” Provost 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 during the Gala Concert.

The festival is named in honor of Dr. Lawrence R. Sutherland, who established the festival 38 years ago. Sutherland was Fresno State’s director of bands from 1969 until 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 for the three-day festival 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 p.m. until 5 p.m. On Sunday, afternoon concerts go from 1 p.m. 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, the 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 3:00 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 – about 100 students were selected.

Tickets for the Gala Concert are $15 general admission, $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, $5 for students and seniors.

Aaron Copland (1900-1990), an American composer,  wrote “A Lincoln Portrait” during World War II as a portrait of an eminent American who expresses the “magnificent spirit of our country.”

16 High school bands

  • Liberty High School
  • Clovis North HS Concert Band
  • Hanford High
  • Reedley High
  • Clovis North HS Wind Ensemble
  • Independence High School
  • Clovis East
  • Kingsburg High
  • Lemoore HS
  • Central HS
  • Madera South HS
  • Selma HS
  • American Canyon HS
  • Edison HS Symphonic Band
  • Sunnyside HS
  • Edison HS Wind Ensemble

3 Junior High bands

  • John F. Kennedy Junior High
  • El Capitan Middle School
  • Edison Computech Middle School

3 Junior college bands

  • Cerritos College Concert Band
  • College of the Sequoias
  • Delta College

4-year college bands:

  • CSU Bakersfield
  • Fresno Pacific University
  • Cal Poly Pomona University
  • Sonoma State University Wind Ensemble
  • Fresno State Wind Orchestra
  • Fresno State Symphonic Band



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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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