The same passion that ignited students’ curiosity about fellow band members at jazz festivals inspired Dr. Lawrence R. Sutherland to provide a similar experience for the Fresno State Wind Ensemble. The wind festival captures that invigorating spirit and serves as a way for college ensembles to meet, play for larger audiences, and receive constructive feedback from adjudicators.
“Our Fresno State students benefit from listening to bands of all skill levels playing many different kinds of music. This gives them an idea of what to expect when they go out to teach,” said Sutherland. “They get to rehearse under four different conductors and observe the same conductors working with the Festival Wind Orchestra and High School Honor Band. The high school students have the same benefit.”
Now called the Dr. Lawrence R. Sutherland Wind Festival, the event has grown to include collegiate, high school, and middle school ensembles as well. The festival proves to be mutually beneficial for all levels of musicians. The younger bands allow Fresno State music students to observe and learn from music educators in action with repertoire and conducting as a primary focus. On the other side, young musicians can watch collegiate groups producing excitement for their craft, informing their creative future, and yielding and inspiration for life.
“Thanks to Gary Gilroy’s work the festival continues to grow and provide the participants with a unique experience. I know of no other event like ours, and I am proud of the work Gary and our music students have done,” said Sutherland. “Every year brings me a new sense of satisfaction in seeing how much the participants appreciate being involved and how much they get out of it.”
On March 15, 16, and 17, hundreds of students from around the Central Valley arrived at Fresno State for the 40th Annual Dr. Lawrence R. Sutherland Wind Festival and Gala Concert. Middle schools and high school wind ensembles performed back-to-back for two days in front of an audience of their peers and renowned adjudicators. The festival gala concert on Saturday evening featured the Fresno Pacific University Wind Ensemble under the baton of Dr. Eric Leung and the Fresno State Wind Orchestra conducted by Dr. Gary P. Gilroy.
Dr. Lawrence R. Sutherland served as guest conductor for Symphony for Band, Op. 69, II. Adagio Sostenuto, “Round me Falls the Night” — the second piece performed by the Fresno State Wind Orchestra.
In the final day of the festival, the top wind ensembles from around the Valley performed along with the High School Honor Band and Wind Festival Orchestra conducted by the festival’s adjudicators — Dr. Andrew Boysen Jr., Professor of Music, University of New Hampshire; Susan Hamre, Director of Bands, American River College, California; Dr. Thomas Lee, Professor Emeritus, Director of Bands, UCLA; and Dr. David Fullmer, Director of Bands, Snow College, Utah.
As the festival continues to expand to include an increasing number of young students from across the Valley, we are reminded that what often begins as a spark of passion ignited within us can serve as an inspiration for life.
You can be a part of that inspiration for young students by contributing to the Lawrence R. Sutherland Scholarship Endowment.
CAH Communication Specialist Benjamin Kirk contributed to this report.