Possibly one of the best-kept secrets in Solano County is the Solano Winds Community Concert Band.
It brings a little bit of Americana to an audience passionate about everything from the big band sound to John Phillip Souza marches. Their most recent concert at the Downtown Theater proved this point. Always thoughtful and meticulous in their themes, the performance was called “On the Jukebox – Popular Music Through the Ages.” Conductor Bill Doherty, along with more than 50 musicians, filled the stage with some of the most resounding, reverberating popular music of all time.
The performance traditionally began with the “Voice of Solano Winds,” Liz Wildberger, a retired medical specialist. She is always informative and gracious in her soliloquy concerning each piece, which helps bring the music more alive. It is obvious that much research has been done with respect to not only the music, but the composers.
The very name of Solano Winds automatically suggests piccolos, flutes, oboes, clarinets, saxophones, trombones and tubas, but one of the most impressive elements of this particular band is the percussion section. Too often, the percussion can dominate musical works, drowning out the essence of the overall musical presentation. But that is definitely not the case with this band.
The disciplined and superior efforts of Phil Doty, Wally Hunt, Georgina Nash,Christine Donovan, Jennifer Doherty and Daisy Sanchez are greatly appreciated for their solid balance and addition to the overall ensemble.
Last weekend’s concert also offered renditions such as John Klorh’s “The Billboard March,” which featured some profoundly charging band music. And the rest of the evening was rounded out by wonderful works of the great composer Scott Joplin, as well as a soulfully performed rendition of “Amazing Grace,” arranged by Frank Ticheli. Kudos go to saxophonist and English teacher Marcus Mills for his wonderful introduction to this number in the slow, low, haunting sound from his instrument. That moment alone caused quite a stir from the audience.
“Their rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ gave me goosebumps,” said Fairfield resident Darwin Lum. Compliments should also be given to conductor and school administrator, Dr. Chris Hulett, who plays the tuba in Solano Winds. He did an outstanding job as a guest conductor during the evening.
In last weekend’s performance, the community musical performers ranged in age from 14 to 96. They are a dedicated group of Solano County musicians with an obvious passion for what they do.
The next Solano Winds performance will be on May 9, and will be entitled “It’s Just Great Music!” And that it is, each and every time. This ensemble never disappoints. The only thing needed to complete their excellent offerings is a larger audience. More people need to realize that each and every performer on stage does their finest and best to bring uplifting, harmonic tones to the Solano community.
The last audience was appreciative however, and proved to be an enthusiastic group.
Paula McConnell is a free lance writer living in Vallejo.