TEMPO ~ Inside the Winds, Vol. 4, February 2018

A Message from the Maestro

February 11th Valentine’s Concert – Don’t Miss this One!

Our February 11, 2018 concert celebrates famous couples from the symphonic and operatic world—couples who have been synonymous with the beauty and tragedy of those most human of emotions—love and desire.

It promises to be among the most exciting, romantic and passionate concerts in the over thirty-year history of your LA Winds! I know that there are many demands on our time, and our social calendars are oftentimes overbooked. Family, friends, leisure and work responsibilities often necessitate choices on how we spend our valuable free time. Let me urge you, however, to clear your calendars so you don’t miss our February 11 concert.

We invite you and your loved ones to begin your Valentine’s week with an entertaining, inspiring and unique symphonic wind concert celebrating Romeo and Juliet, Porgy and Bess, Samson and Delilah and Tristan and Isolde. Christina Roszhart of Center Stage Opera – a remarkable young award-winning dramatic soprano — will be our featured soloist in Tristan and IsoldeCourtney Marsh – a gifted, supremely talented rising star mezzo– will sing selections from Porgy and Bess. Along with the virtuoso instrumentalists of the LA Winds, you’ll share in an unforgettable afternoon of high-powered music making.

The acoustically inviting and beautiful Performing Arts Education Center of Calabasas High School (22855 Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas CA 91302) will once again serve as our venue. As usual, we will begin at 2:30 pm.  All who attend will receive a Valentine’s gift package from your LA Winds—a small gesture of thanks to you from your LA Winds. And members of the Maestro’s Circle are also invited to a post-concert dinner and reception at the Marmalade Café in Calabasas.

As many of you may know, each of these works occupies a truly special place among the masterworks of Western culture. Tristan and Isolde marked a giant leap forward in terms of its daring harmonic resources and cataclysmic climaxes. Written in the same year (1859) as Darwin’s Origin of Species and Marx’s Das Kapital, it marked a turning point in the history of Western art, just as the other works were equally transformative in the fields of science and economics. Gershwin’s controversial Porgy and Bess, written in 1936, was likewise a musical game changer in that it successfully combined elements of “classless” jazz and “classical” music into an artform long associated only with upper-class snobbery. And Tchaikovsky’s melodies in Romeo and Juliet (1860), once dismissed by the musical intelligentsia as insubstantial “musical cotton candy”, are now staples in the symphonic diet. Finally, the exoticism of the Saint Saens Bacchanale—certainly not as shocking as it may have been when it premiered in 1877—retains its seductive magnetism as Delilah celebrates here short-lived victory over her newly-shorn rival, her deceived and conflicted lover, Samson.

Although hundreds of you already have tickets to this spectacular event, additional tickets are available through our LA Winds ticket manager Melinda Benane at melinda.lawinds@gmail.com. Advance sales tickets are available at $20. Tickets at the door, $25.

See you on the 11th! Don’t miss it!   Amor Vincit Omnia


Stephen Piazza, Director, Los Angeles Symphonic Winds

TEMPO ~ Inside the LA Winds, Vol. 3, Oct. 2017


Due to several schedule conflicts and inadequate parking at the Sheman Oaks Women’s Club, we have changed the venue of our Nov. 19th Chamber Music Concert. The new location is St. Luke Lutheran Church, 5312 Comercio Way, Woodland Hills, CA 91364 (near the corner of Ventura Blvd & Canoga Ave)

Note also that there is no longer a need for a 1:00 pm concert so we will have only one concert at 4:00 pm

It’s going to be a great concert with music for wind quintet, a performance from the Song of Angels Flute Choir, the majestic Mozart C minor Serenade, and more.

See you on Sunday, November 19th at 4:00 pm at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Woodland Hills!

A Message from the Maestro

Thanks to your support, our Oktoberfest Concert was a rousing success—both musically and socially!

Spotlighting such legendary composers as Bach, Strauss, Mendelssohn, Henze and Orff, the musical portion of the day’s events was one of the Winds’ most impressive opening concerts.  I was especially moved by the Winds’ performance of Michael Doty’s challenging and beautiful arrangement of the Suite from Der Rosenkavalier.  Michael was very appreciative of our programming his work and commented how “expertly and very expressively” we performed it.  We’re looking forward to playing more of Michael’s excellent transcriptions next season.

I hope you enjoyed the Bach Passacaglia as much as I did. The ever-evolving color palette of Will Schaeffer’s setting led to an incredibly compelling ending worthy of the sonic splendor of the greatest cathedrals in Europe, as well as offering deep insights into the profound majesty of J.S. Bach’s musical vision.

However, if I had to pick one highlight out of many that we shared with you that day, it would be the excerpts from “Carmina Burana”.   Not only did the Winds present both a powerful and intimate insight into this 20th-century masterpiece, but the singers added a level of musicality that gave us the kind of moving artistic experience we hope to get from the concerts we attend.  Kudos to Dennis, Egan and Christina for their contribution!

As you know, Christina and her colleagues form Center Stage Opera will be joining us for our Holiday Spectacular concert on Dec. 17. It is an event not to be missed.

Finally, let me thank the dozens of Winds’ family members who celebrated Oktoberfest at the Local Peasant after the concert.  It gave me a chance to meet and talk with many of our LA Winds family who are so important to our continued success.  It was a great pleasure for me and the band members as we look forward to the post-concert reception after our Holiday Concert.

Daniel Hernandez, Principal Clarinet

I met Steve Piazza as a senior in high school way back in 1980. I enrolled at Pierce College the next fall where Steve was Music Director. I approached Steve and asked if I could play in his Concert Band. He obviously said yes. The next fall I transferred to Cal Arts where I studied with Michele Zukvosky, principal clarinetist with the LA Philharmonic. During that time, Steve would occasionally invite me to play with his band. I played two tours. One in San Francisco and one in San Diego. In 1983 I moved to NYC to study with the great clarinetist and teacher Kalmen Opperman. While there I received my BA in Clarinet Performance and Music Education from the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College. A few years after graduation I fell ill and put the Clarinet aside to focus on healing. In 1997, I returned home to California at which time my health had improved. I wanted to play clarinet again. I just decided to show up at an LA Winds rehearsal and Steve immediately asked me if I wanted to play.

I have now been a member of the LA Winds for 20 years, having some of my best life adventures including the UK tour in 2002, Paris, Luxembourg in 2011 and of course performing at the great Disney Concert Hall in June 2016. I have made some wonderful friends, some that are here some that have passed but I will never forget. In closing, the LA Winds has given me a sense of belonging, direction and overall camaraderie and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

A Special Concert Event from our friends at

Melina & Friends!

The Performing Arts Center
(on the campus of Reseda High School)
18230 Kittridge Street • Reseda, CA 91335

This special concert event features some of opera’s most beloved works, performed by internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Milena Kitic, Center Stage Opera Artistic Directors Shira Renee Thomas and Dylan F. Thomas, and CSO Vocal Competition winners Joseph Lopez, Anastasia Malliaras, Maggie Liu, and Christina Roszhart.

$60 (VIP Seating, reserved parking)
$35 (Orchestra)
$30 (Loge)
$27 (General Admission)

10% discount for Seniors and Students
10% discount for LA Winds subscribers

Click here to buy tickets
or call 818-517-4102

TEMPO ~ Inside the LA Winds, Vol. 3, Sept. 2017

A Message from the Maestro

Welcome to our Season of Celebration! 

After what I hope was an enjoyable summer for you and yours, your LA Winds are returning to the beautiful and acoustically spectacular Calabasas HS Performing Arts Center for our second year of residency.

Our 2017-2018 Season of Celebration begins Sunday, October 1st at 2:30 pm with a celebration of Oktoberfest – as the Winds bring you an afternoon of exhilarating music-making followed by fun-filled Hofbrauhaus style beer tasting at the popular gastropub – The Woodland Hills location of The Local Peasant.

At the concert, we will be performing some of the world’s most celebrated compositions by some of the greatest composers, beginning with Richard Strauss’ heroic Fanfare for the Vienna Philharmonic—a work that has been played at the annual ball for the Vienna Philharmonic over 70 times since 1924.

After the Fanfare, we’ll perform a charming work by the German composer, Hans Werner Henze, The Adventures of Don Quixote. In a fascinating contrast to the music you may know from the 1964 musical The Man of La Mancha, Henze’s graceful and exuberant work is based on Giovanni Paisiello’s 1769 opera Don Chisciotte della Mancia (one of 94 operas Paisiello wrote!).  Henze’s work presents the lighter side of his extensive musical output. Although themes of the play and opera deal with a utopian, fantasy-based society that is in keeping with Henze’s controversial pro-communist political beliefs, his equally heartfelt pro-Jewish, anti-fascist rhetoric was just as controversial to the former fascists who simply wanted to “wish away” the past.

Although Richard Strauss’s opera Der Rosenkavalier was certainly not controversial, Strauss’s political alliances certainly were. Oftentimes referred to as “a reluctant Nazi” Strauss, however,  was declared “not guilty” in his de-Nazification trial in 1948. Nonetheless, the outspoken antifascist conductor Arturo Toscanini had once famously declared “To Richard Strauss, the composer, I take off my hat, to Richard Strauss, the man, I put it on again.”  Strauss would later reply that he considered himself above politics, and also famously said: “I just sit here in Garmisch [his home, outside Munich] and compose. Everything else is irrelevant to me.” Following his psychologically charged operas Salome and Elektra, Rosenkavalier offers a poignant look at love through the varied prisms of youth, hope, joy, resignation, and maturity.  Michael Doty’s setting of the Suite from Der Rosenkavalier presents some of the work’s most beautiful and compelling themes.

The second half of our program begins with Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s Overture for Winds.  Originally written when he was 15 years old for 11 wind players and later expanded to 24 players by Mendelssohn himself, John Boyd’s contemporary setting for full band still allows the work’s charm and exuberance to shine through.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s Passacaglia in C minor, which follows the Mendelssohn, is one of many organ works that have become part of the orchestral and wind symphony repertoire in arrangements by such well-known musicians as Leopold Stokowsky, Ottorino Respighi, Sir Andrew Davis and, for our performance, Will Schaeffer.  Based on a simple 8 bar theme that is presented in various guises through 20 variations, the work builds to a  climax worthy of the acoustical splendor of any of Europe’s great cathedrals.

The final 2 works on our Oktoberfest program include selections from Carl Orff’s setting of 14th-century poems and songs entitled Carmina Burana. Originally conceived as a ballet with dancers, singers, and a small instrumental ensemble, today’s version has been arranged for winds by John Krance and modified to include vocal soloists. This version maintains both the grandeur and intimacy of one of the classic works of 20th-century German composers.

Our concert closes with a medley of popular German (and American!) songs titled The Little German Band, which will send us on our way to our very own Munich–style “Hofbrauhaus” reception at the Local Peasant gastropub in Woodland Hills.

See you on October 1 !!

A Letter from the Editor

Welcome back to the ever-evolving TEMPO! We hope you’ll like our new format this year:

  • The Maestro’s Message: Steve will be giving you more personal information about himself and details about upcoming concerts
  • Information & News: We’ll make sure you have the latest information about locations, times, tickets and subscriptions, extra-curricular activities (there are plenty this year!), as well as sponsorship opportunities
  • Spotlight: We would like your suggestions for subscribers or band members you would like to see “in the spotlight”! Share your nominations by emailing member@lawinds.org and telling us why you’d like to see this person in the spotlight. Give us a few weeks to get the full story (and photos).

We hope you can join us at 6 pm this Sunday, September 24th at LACMA “Sundays Live” concert. Come see us in the beautiful Bing Theatre – it’s free! Visit the Sundays Live website for more information. If you can’t make it to the performance you can still hear it live! on the same website. Our concert will also be kept there as a podcast for one week after the show. You can even download it!

Oh … and thank you for visiting our new LA Winds website for the latest and greatest news and information. We’ll be adding photos, audio, and video all the time, so come back often.

Thank you again for joining us for the 2017-18 “Season of Celebration” See you soon!

TEMPO ~ Inside the LA Winds, Vol. 2, June 2017

A Message from the Maestro

As the nearly 500 of you who attended our Mother’s Day concert know, our celebration of women who changed the course of history was a wonderful tribute to women of the past—and to those of you women of today who made our “Season of Independence” so successful. The complimentary roses and beautifully packaged candy were simply our way of saying “thank you”.  In order to give equal time to our men subscribers and friends, we’ll have a special gift package for them at our June 18 Father’s Day concert.  And the music promises to be no less exciting.

The LA Winds 584 Jazz Band will kick things off with big band standards that will remind many of us of the upbeat sounds of the 40s, 50s and 60s.  And when the full complement of the LA Winds takes the stage, guest soloists Theresa Dimond of the LA Opera Orchestra and Christina Roszhart of Center Stage Opera will offer a tribute to great men of history in an exciting and uplifting program of symphonic band classics.

As we look forward to our 2017-2018 season I’m happy to tell you that we’re already 2/3 of the way to our subscription goal.  Let me urge those of you who have not yet subscribed to do so at your earliest convenience so that you get the best seats possible. You can get more details about the new season’s concertsseating charts on this site.

Click here to download a subscription form

Finally, let me especially thank those of you who are, or are planning to be, members of the Maestro’s Circle for your special support.  We’d like all of you at the Platinum, Gold and Silver levels to attend a special post-concert, season-ending reception in the lobby after the concert.  This will give you a chance to meet the soloists, our Operations Board and some of the Valley’s most influential arts patrons.  See you all on the 18th!

A Letter from the Editor

This is the last issue of TEMPO for the season. The LA Winds will take a break after our June 18th “Father’s Day” until our “Sundays Live” concert at LACMA on September 24th. Come see us in the beautiful Bing Theatre – it’s free! Check this site for more info as it becomes available. The performance will also be live-streamed on KUSC 91.5 that day.

I want to take a moment to quickly reflect on the past season, look ahead to our exciting plans for the 2017-18 season, and express my gratitude.

This past year the LA Winds experienced an important transition as the band became it’s own entity. It has been our “Season of Independence.” We also joined with the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra and Center Stage Opera to create a dynamic group that provides superior musical opportunities throughout the year. The band is now fortunate to have non-profit status under the umbrella of the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra.

We have learned so much as a group. Our Operational Board has found it’s “sea legs” and is prepared to tackle the new challenges and prospects for the future. We rely heavily on the operations team to make things happen. Our (newly forming) Executive Board will point us in the right direction and keep us on the path to remaining one of the San Fernando Valley’s musical gems while expanding future opportunities.

Our audience members have proven their loyalty and patience as the LA Winds began to establish the Calabasas HS Performing Arts Education Center as it’s new home (with a few detours along the way). The members of the band have shown their dedication while rehearsal spaces spanned across the valley (and then some!) and learned challenging, exciting music.

Our band family has seen friends pass this year. We’ve also celebrated weddings, birthdays, graduations (we have a new UCLA Bruin in our midst) and even welcomed a new baby!

TEMPO has been a new experience for all of us. Thank you to all of you who have volunteered to step into the spotlight. We loved getting to know our subscribers better and hope you found the member spotlights interesting, as well. The feedback has been positive but we’re still taking suggestions for future issues. Most of all, we welcome more volunteers for the “spotlight” sections.

We also have a new website! We encourage you to take a look around as we continue to build it. You can get to it as you did previously or go directly to lawinds.com. Rest assured it will be updated regularly and we will be sharing new recordings and videos as they become available.

As Steve mentioned, the next season promises to be filled with exciting “sonic splendor” (Steve’s words)! We think you’ll love the idea of themed concerts that offer more than just fantastic music. Check out the new season here.

You, our subscribers and members, are the reason we exist. As much as the players love playing, the LA Winds would be nothing without our loyal and supportive audience. Thank you.

Until September – Ciao!

TEMPO ~ Inside the LA Winds, May 2017

A Message from the Maestro

This Sunday’s “Extraordinary Women” concert promises to take you on one of the most fascinating journeys of your LA  Winds season. From the 15th century heroine Joan of Arc to the present-day royalty of Queen Elizabeth, the Winds will share with you the power, majesty and beauty of some of history’s most influential women.

On Sunday, June 18 – FATHER’S DAY, we’ll celebrate such legendary men as King David, Cyrus the Great and George Washington. The LA Winds “Flight 584” Big Band will also perform.

After the concert, I’ll host a special “invitation only” reception at the concert hall for members of the Maestro’s Circle and the LA Winds Board of Directors. If you or someone you know is interested in helping to fund the Winds’ important activities by joining our Executive Board, let me know at member@lawinds.org so I can get complimentary tickets for the concert and reserve a place for them at the reception.

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday, May 14th and Sunday, June 18th. Both concerts are at 2:30 pm and we’re back at our new home in Calabasas!

Member Spotlight
Joel Kabakoff (Bb Clarinet, Alto Clarinet)

I’ve been a band member since 1994. After speaking with bandmate Bob Crosby after a rehearsal of another group we played in, he suggested that I call Steve Piazza. I did so, telling him about my clarinet background. He replied with: “We can always use good ones.” Within 5 minutes of my first rehearsal, I knew I was finally in the right place. Playing with the LA Winds has led to years of enrichment, playing before appreciative home audiences and going on many great ventures, including 5 European trips! My favorite moment was on our first European trip in 2000 where we played a joint concert with the local band in the hill town of Prossedi, Italy.

In addition to the LA Winds, I  play alto clarinet in the Los Angeles Clarinet Choir. I’ve been working as a paralegal for over 20 years and currently work in the recording department at a Westlake Village title company. I enjoy golf, photography and rooting for Cleveland sports teams.

Subscriber Spotlight
Marcy and Mike Orkin

Now retired, Marcy, a paralegal and Mike, a scientist, were raised in the San Fernando Valley. We subscribed when our high school daughter, Dena, joined the nurturing Wind’s clarinet section. She is now completing a DMA degree in clarinet performance and literature. When her brother, Daniel, returned from college, she encouraged him to join the trombone section.

Tuesday nights, we may be found at Viva Cantina in Burbank watching/listening to Daniel and fellow LA Wind’s members performing in the Flight 584 Big Band.

Marcy volunteers and Mike helps (?) by nagging Maestro Piazza to program more Henry Fillmore marches.

Special Thanks

Thanks to Nancy Lew and her husband, Lee, for their generous support of the LA Winds and for hosting the LA Winds Woodwind Quintet (Juan Rivera, Steve Piazza, Jessica Wilkins, Charles Fernandez & Joy Armstrong) and Saxophone Quartet (Caryn Rassmusen, Ed Etayo, Tom Stipulkosky & Dave Weston) at their lovely home. The cake was amazing (see inset above) and the ribs were unbelievable!

To find out more about how you can host a chamber group at your home next season, as a Maestro’s Circle member, email member@lawinds.org or check out the subscriber form in the next concert program.

We are sorry to have lost a dear friend of the LA Winds family last month

Elaine Kinkel
It is with much sadness that we pass on the news that Elaine Kinkel has passed away after a long battle with cancer. Elaine was a huge supporter of the LA Winds who helped with many fundraising events, including our Ralphs program, and tirelessly volunteering her time and energy over many years. Her son, Rick Kinkel (trumpet) and daughter-in-law, Audrey (clarinet) are LA Winds alumni. 

She will be missed by the entire LA Winds family