Four Winds on Wednesdays #1

Featuring host Stephen Piazza and guest co-host Charles Fernandez, oboist Kelly Smith and flutist Susan Craig Winsberg.






Sounds of Your LA Winds #14

“Holiday Spectacular” 2020 Edition

Dear Friends and Members of the LA Winds Family,

The final edition of the LA Winds “Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds” series — which has obviously been extended through the fall and winter — brings to you an exciting mix of holiday favorites.  But before we share with you our holiday cheer, let me thank all of those who were responsible for making this series such a success.  Alicia Pizzi, Sue Winsberg, Kelly Smith, Geoff Nudell, Claudia Peterson, Ruth Beaver, Mark Markus, Paul Piazza, Jason Beaumont, Andrea Vancura, Mike Hicks, Chuck Fernandez and Brian O’Connor generously demonstrated their instruments with you and shared valuable performance and composition techniques to students and teachers in the LA Unified School District.  Our videos received over 3,000 views on a variety of platforms and were shared with hundreds of LAUSD students. I would also like to thank my longtime colleague and friend Steve Woloshin for his invaluable help in co-producing this series.

Today’s edition begins with a few words of thanks to all of you for your continued support and announces two exciting new LA Winds projects.

Click here for Maestro Piazza’s holiday wishes

The first of these projects is the inauguration on January 6 of our 4WoW (4 Winds on Wednesday) live stream series.  This bi-weekly event will feature performances and interviews with some of the fascinating members of the LA Winds family.  Every other Wednesday at 4:00 pm you’ll be invited to attend this live stream event where you can ask questions or simply make comments to our guests and performers.  You’ll be getting info on the simple link to participate in this free and exciting new LA Winds series near the end of December.

The second project involves some wonderful financial news for our LA Winds.  One of our Board members has set up a matching donation program of up to $5,000 dollars—as long as you make your contribution by January 31, 2021.*  For every tax-deductible* dollar you donate to the LA Winds, our Board member will donate an equal amount. Your $20 donation becomes a $40 donation, your $200 donation becomes a $400 donation, etc, etc.  Simply go to our website www.lawinds.com and click on the yellow “PayPal Donation Now” button. You do not need a PayPal account.) We can take care of the rest.  By the way, we already have $1,000 pledged to keep your LA Winds moving forward in these challenging times.

Our “Holiday Spectacular” continues with highlights from the LA Winds festive recording of “Nutcracker Fantasy”.

Click here for “Nutcracker Fantasy”

Next up is a special gift to all our loyal subscribers, patrons, sponsors and friends.  Forty-five  of our current members (and 3 LA Winds alumni) joined forces in a brilliant zoom performance of three holiday favorites — Sleigh Ride, Ma’Oz Tzur and We Need a Little Christmas.  Special thanks to our very own Mike Armstrong for his outstanding work assembling, editing and producing this first-rate holiday video.  And kudos to our percussion section leader, Brian O’Connor!

Click here for Zoom Holiday Gift pieces

This Zoom performance is followed by our composer in residence, co-principal bassoonist and assistant conductor, Charles Fernadez, who has put together a beautiful visual accompaniment to LA Winds alum Michael Kibbe’s “Hanukkah Joy.”

Click here for Michael’s Hanukkah piece

Finally, we close with our traditional “Merry Sing Along” as arranged by another Winds alum, Bob Joles. I’ve included some nice visuals as well as the texts, so you have no excuse to avoid a more intimate rendition of what has been – and again will be – a large-scale, spectacular holiday sing along!

Click here for A Merry Sing-Along

Happy Holidays stay safe and thanks, as always, for your continued support. We’ll see all of you again on January 6!

All the best,

Stephen P. Piazza

Artistic Director
Los Angeles Symphonic Winds


Sounds of Your LA Winds #13

High to Low and In-Between Too!

Dear Friends and members of the LA Winds Family,

The first of two “Sounds of Your LA Winds” December installments features high flying flutes, a rock solid bass line bassoon and perhaps the most versatile member of the LA Winds woodwind family—the saxophone.

We begin with LA Winds co-principal flutist Susan Winsberg and highlights from her 2019 world premiere concert performance of Ross Wright’s multi-faceted “Sue’s Night Out.”  You may recall that this concert also featured Sue’s truly authentic reading of Robert Burns’ classic “Tam O’Shanter” as a prelude to the Winds’ performance of Malcolm Arnold’s setting of this Wind Band staple.

Click here for highlights from “Sue’s Night Out”

An expert not only in the Scottish dialect, but Scottish and Irish instruments as well, Sue next demonstrates some authentic Celtic instruments that offer a fascinating look at the extended flute family.

Click here for Sue’s Celtic flute and whistle demonstration.

From the uppermost reaches of the Winds’ woodwind family we next turn to its very foundation—the bassoon. One of the oldest members of the woodwind family, dating back to the Renaissance, the bassoon’s unique qualities, construction, techniques and history are presented by the Winds’ very own first-rate bassoonist, Ruth Beaver.

Click here for Ruth’s bassoon demonstration.

Next, we turn to the most modern of woodwind instruments, the saxophone, whose family extends from low (Bass Sax) to high (Soprano Sax).  Our own Claudia Peterson shows us the anatomy of the “in–between“ saxophone – the Tenor Sax. This was the preferred instrument of such jazz legends as John Coltrane, Lester Young and Stan Getz

Click here for Claudia’s saxophone demonstration.

And speaking of jazz, we’ll close out this installment of “Sounds of Your LA Winds” with highlights from Mark Markus’ original big band composition, “Stafford Lane Jazzers” which features Mark’s dazzling tenor saxophone solo playing. Also, a valued member of the Winds’ clarinet section, you may recall his incredible solo work on the Winds’ performance of the main title to Henry Mancini’s “To Catch a Thief.”  A few minutes into this performance, I added excerpts from a saxophone collage video that our co-principal saxophonist Caryn Rasmussen originally put together for a performance of Ralph Martino’s “A Gershwin Fantasy.” I think you’ll enjoy it as a visual accompaniment to Mark’s piece.

Click here to hear excerpts from Mark’s “Stafford Lane Jazzers”

Our upcoming December 15 “Sounds of Your LA Winds” year-end finale will feature our annual Holiday Spectacular with the whole band performing our classic recordings of “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “Russian Christmas Music,” and “Hanukah Joy.”  And, as an added bonus, we’ll include newly recorded LA Winds holiday special “Zoom” performances of “Sleigh Ride,” “Song of Hanukkah,” and, quite appropriately, “We Need A Little Christmas.”  We’ll also have some exciting news of how you can help the Winds take full advantage of a very generous (and much needed) matching grant of $5,000 that we have recently received.  Finally, we’ll have a schedule of the opening events of our 2021 series of live-stream performance series, “The 4 Winds on Wednesdays,” a biweekly series taking place on alternate Wednesdays beginning January 6 at 4:00 pm.

Thanks, as always, for your continued support and, on behalf of all the members of the LA Winds family, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.  Stay safe!

All the best,

Artistic Director
Los Angeles Symphonic Winds


Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds #12

Trombone Extravaganza

Today’s “Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds” presentations offer you, our loyal subscribers and friends, a multi-faceted and unique look at one of the most time-honored instruments in the LA Winds family – the trombone.

We begin with a tribute to that legendary trombone virtuoso and Big Band leader, Glenn Miller, and a collection of his memorable hits that the LA Winds recorded in 2012. Many of you will recognize such nostalgic tunes as Moonlight Serenade, Pennsylvania 6500, Chattanooga Choo Choo and many others.

Click here for “Glenn Miller in Concert”

Next, we’ll turn to something less traditional – the controversial 1989 track by Chris Isaak entitled “Wicked Games.”  Although its initial release was not especially noteworthy, its inclusion in the 1990 motion picture “Wild at Heart,” directed by David Lynch, brought it into Billboard’s Top Ten list.  I’ve superimposed Lynch’s unconventional “risqué” video to “Wicked Games” behind a very soulful and beautiful performance of this piece by LA Winds multi-talented trombonist, Mike Hicks. Mike is accompanied by his brother, Chris Hicks, on guitar and additional instruments.

Click here for the Mike Hicks (and David Lynch) version of “Wicked Games”

Our non-traditional look at the trombone through the prism of the LA Winds continues as we feature trombonist and composer, Andrea Vancura.  The LA Winds, as many of you recall, were privileged to present the world premiere of two of Andrea’s works for Concert Band, “Pravda Vitezi” and “Hypnagogia.” Andrea will introduce us to and play for us the fascinating technique known as “looping.”

Click here for Andrea’s presentation

Lastly, we’ll combine something old with something new as we present a novel look at the short film, “The Black Imp,” produced by the groundbreaking French director Georges Méliès in 1905. LA Winds alum, composer and woodwind specialist Frank Macchia provided some truly innovative updated music for this short film.  And trombone legend Alex Isles, who soloed with the LA Winds in Bill Cunliffe’s beautiful “Trombone Concerto,” is the featured trombone soloist in this unique collaboration.

Click here for Alex Isles in the Machia/Méliès collaboration of “The Black Imp”

Our December episodes of “Summer Sounds” will bring this series to a close as we present an eclectic look at both classical and jazz saxophones, the bassoon, and the traditional “Gaelic” flute on December 1.  On the December 15 episode, we’ll present our annual “Holiday Spectacular” with classic works from the LA Winds Video library as well as brand new “Zoom” recordings of Holiday favorites.  And on January 6, we’ll launch a fascinating series of live stream programs entitled “The Four Winds Wednesdays.”  This will feature members of the LA Winds family in a live-stream format Wednesdays at 4:00 pm.  More info on this exciting program to come!

Thanks, as always, for your continued support!

Stay safe,

Stephen P. Piazza
Artistic Director
Los Angeles Symphonic Winds


Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds #11

Oboe Class and Oboe Style

Dear Colleagues, Friends and LA Winds Supporters,

As your LA Winds moves into the Fall and Winter seasons, our “Summer Sounds” series will be concluding with 3 more entertaining, interesting and informative performances.

We’ll open today’s presentation with a performance of Alfred Reed’s classic “El Camino Real,” a work we recorded in concert just prior to our tour of China.  For that tour, we were asked to provide videos for our Chinese audiences to watch while we performed live. I have included this video — beautifully assembled by our co-principal saxophonist Caryn Rasmussen—for your enjoyment.

Note the beautiful oboe passage — this week’s featured instrument — that begins around 2:59.

Click here to hear and view “El Camino Real”

Next, we present one of our newest outstanding musicians, Kelly Smith, in an informative introduction to the oboe. Kelly will also play a beautiful excerpt by Johannes Brahms. Then we’ll put that excerpt in its original orchestral context. You’re in for quite a treat!

Click here to see Kelly’s presentation and the Brahms excerpt

Finally, we’ll feature LA Winds former co-principal oboist, Jessica Wilkins, in the stirring finale to her 2017 performance of Rimsky Korsakov’s oboe concerto.

Click here to see Jessica’s amazing performance

Our upcoming mid-November series presentation will feature 2 of our outstanding trombonists — composer/performer Andrea Vancura and jazz, pop and classical trombonist Mike Hicks. We’ll also include a segment featuring the LA Winds performing the big band sounds of trombone legend Glenn Miller. This episode will conclude with a number by one of today’s great trombone virtuosos, Alex Isles — who, as many of you may recall, was one of your LA Winds featured soloists.

I also want to give you a heads-up on what promises to be an exciting live stream bi-weekly series your LA Winds will inaugurate in the new year.  More information to come!  Thanks, as always, for your continued support, and please continue to stay safe.

Sincerely,

Stephen P. Piazza
Artistic Director
Los Angeles Symphonic Winds


Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds #10

A Tango, a Rhythm and a Clarinet Classic

Dear Friends and members of the LA Winds Family,

Today’s edition of “Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds” – now being extended through the end of the year – features our entire virtuoso clarinet section.  We’ll also spotlight acclaimed LA Winds soloist, in-demand freelancer and noted educator Geoff Nudell.

We’ll begin this multifaceted journey into the clarinet world with a spirited performance of one of Astor Piazzola’s legendary tangos, which I performed in a recent live stream broadcast on the highly successful “Thursdays 4@4” series.  Some exciting visuals and videos accompany my performance.

Click Here to hear Maestro Piazza’s lively “Tango” performance.

For nearly 20 years, woodwind virtuoso Geoff Nudell has been a source of inspiration to the entire LA Winds family.  He was featured, along with his former student SSgt Parker Gaims, in an earlier “Summer Sounds” segment in a spirited performance of Mendelssohn’s Op. 13 duet. Geoff will introduce us to the clarinet as well as performing a fascinating rendition of Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm.”

Click Here to hear Geoff Nudell’s insightful presentation.

We’ll close today’s “Summer Sounds” episode with the LA Winds clarinet section performing Carl Maria von Weber’s classic “Concertino for Clarinet.”  Mike Armstrong leads the Winds as Geoff and I join the other eight LA Winds players in a true clarinet “Tour de force!”

Click here for “Concertino for Clarinet” 

Next month’s “Summer Sounds” series will feature one of the Winds newest outstanding members, Kelly Smith, demonstrating one the woodwind families’ most time-honored members— the oboe. Also featured will be former LA Winds oboe co-principals Mike Kibbe and Jessica Wilkins. Mike will be featured in Alfred Reed’s “El Camino Real” and Jessica will be seen in her magnificent performance of Rimsky Korsakov’s “Theme and Variations” for oboe and band.

Thanks, as always, for your continued support of the LA Winds and for sharing this “Summer Sounds” series with your on-line friends, family and co-workers. Stay well!

All the best,

Sincerely,

Stephen P. Piazza
Artistic Director
Los Angeles Symphonic Winds


Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds #9

It’s Tasty Trumpet Time!

Dear Friends and members of the LA Winds Family,

In this, the 9th in our “Summer Sounds” series, we begin with one of the most memorable performances in the history of your LA Winds.  Former LA Winds principal trumpet player, Ron Barrows, is featured in a short clip of an unforgettable 2004 performance of Rodrigo’s classic “Concierto de Aranjuez.”  This concert took place in the main piazza of Recco, Italy (just outside of Genoa), and was one the highlights of your Winds’ first European tour.

Click here for “Concierto de Aranjuez”

Next, LA Winds assistant conductor Paul Piazza will present you with his fascinating and informative introduction to the trumpet.  This video and its follow-up tutorial has already been viewed hundreds of times by LAUSD students as part of your LA Winds joint educational venture with LA Unified.

Click here for “Introduction to The Trumpet”

We’ll close our trumpet extravaganza with trumpet virtuoso Jens Lindemann of the UCLA faculty and formerly with the Canadian Brass performing “Dreaming of the Masters.”  Some of you long time supporters of the LA Winds may recall Jens’ performance of this stunning work with us during our season at CSUN’s Plaza del Sol Auditorium.

Click here for “Dreaming of The Masters”

Our next installment of “LA Winds” sounds will include our entire clarinet section performing highlights from Weber’s classic “Concertino.”  Then our very own Geoff Nudell will introduce you to the artistry and versatility of the clarinet.  I’ll close this mini “clarinetfest” with my performance of one of Piazzola’s favorite Argentinian tangos — along with some provocative visuals!

Thanks, as always, for your continued support!

All the best,

Sincerely,

Stephen P. Piazza
Artistic Director
Los Angeles Symphonic Winds


Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds #8

The Dynamics of Percussion

Dear Friends and Members of the LA Winds Family,

Today’s “Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds” offers you an in-depth look at what is, without a doubt, the most visually exciting section of our world-class ensemble — the percussion section!

We’ll begin with LA Winds alum Matt Howard (now principal percussionist of our very own Los Angeles Philharmonic) as he and his Philharmonic colleagues present an entertaining and virtuosic reading of “The States Medley.”  This upbeat old-time xylophone and marimba classic is guaranteed to bring some much-needed smiles to our LA Winds family.

Click here for “The States Medley”

Next, our current principal percussionist, Brian O’Connor will take you on an interesting journey into the intricacies of the multi-faceted snare drum.  As many of you know, Brian is head of the instrumental music program at LAUSD’s John Locke High School where his knowledge and enthusiasm have been a true inspiration to hundreds of young musicians.

Click here for the Snare Drum Presentation by Brian O’Connor

A wide variety of percussion instruments — sirens, gongs, temple blocks and more — are used by composer Edgar Varèse in his classic “Ionisation.”  This fascinating 6-minute piece, composed in 1929, is a staple in the Percussion Ensemble repertoire and will give you an exciting visual look at the percussion family of instruments.

Click here for “Ionisation” by Edgar Varèse

We’ll close with a brief portion of a 2014 interview with my LA Opera Orchestra colleague, Therese Dimond, who will discuss her status as a female percussionist as well as her musical admiration for one of LA Opera’s most noteworthy and now controversial artists.

Click here for Therese’s insights into the world of the female percussionist

In our next video, Paul Piazza will present for you his introduction to the trumpet.  This video and its follow-up tutorial have already been viewed hundreds of times by LAUSD students as part of your LA Winds joint educational venture with LA Unified School District.  In addition, we’ll feature a short clip of former LA Winds principal trumpet, Ron Barrows, in an unforgettable performance of Rodrigo’s classic “Concierto de Aranjuez.” This performance in Recco, Italy (just outside of Genoa) was one the highlights of the Winds’ first European tour.  We’ll close our trumpet extravaganza with trumpet virtuoso Jens Lindemann of the UCLA faculty and formerly with the Canadian Brass performing “Dreaming of the Masters.”  Some of you may recall Jens’ performance of this stunning work with us during our season at CSUN’s Plaza del Sol Auditorium.

Stay safe everyone and, as always, thanks for your continued support of your LA Winds!

All the best,

Sincerely,

Stephen P. Piazza
Artistic Director
Los Angeles Symphonic Winds


Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds #7

Salute to the Flute!

Dear Friends and Members of the LA Winds Family,

This week’s installment of “Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds” – the 7th in our series of entertaining and informative videos – is also the 2nd in our series of educational videos being shared with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The LA Winds world-class flute section is featured this week as we begin our video presentation with a performance of the famous “Dance of the Blessed Spirits” from the opera Orpheus and Eurydice. I’ve paired the lovely LA Winds 2018 flute section performance of this work with a beautiful ballet setting from Pina Bausch’s production at the Palais Garnier in 2008. Our co-principal flutist Juan Rivera can be heard playing Gluck’s ethereal melody.

Click here for “Dance of the Blessed Spirits”

Next up is our own Alicia Pizzi, whom you’ve seen in a number of our earlier videos. Our principal flutist when the Winds were in its formative stages a number of years ago, Alicia left us to pursue a career in education.  Now a member of the faculty at LAUSD’s Sendak Elementary School in North Hollywood, she rejoined the Winds three seasons ago where her musical artistry once again contributes to the Winds’ artistic excellence. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her enthusiastic and informative introduction to the world of the flute.

Click here for the Flute Introduction by Alicia Pizzi

Finally, I’ve included an entertaining video featuring Alicia and her father, the legendary woodwind specialist Ray Pizzi, in a performance of the 3rd movement from Pierre Gabaye’s “Sonatine for Flute and Bassoon”.  Ray provided the playful images that accompany this charming piece. I was privileged to be in attendance when this was recorded at Alicia’s CSUN graduation recital.

Click here for “Sonatine for Flute and Bassoon”

Next week we’ll feature our principal percussionist, Brian O’Connor sharing his insights into the fascinating instrumental diversity of the LA Winds percussion section.  In addition, we’ll feature highlights from Michael Daugherty’s “Raise the Roof” and some interesting words from LA Opera’s timpanist Therese Dimond.

Thanks again for your continued support, and we remind to stay safe as these challenging times continue.

All best,

Sincerely,

Stephen P. Piazza
Artistic Director
Los Angeles Symphonic Winds


Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds #6

Hear, Hear For The Horns!

Dear Friends and Members of the LA Winds Family:

Welcome to the 6th in our series of “Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds” presentations!  Today we launch an exciting program of videos designed not only for you, our loyal supporters, but also for the teachers and the music students of the Los Angeles Unified School District. We are privileged, indeed, to do our part–thanks to your ongoing support–to help keep music alive in our schools…especially during these challenging and uncertain times.

From this point forward, each installment of our “Summer Sounds” series will highlight both the spectacular sounds of your LA Winds as well as some of our virtuoso players as they demonstrate their instruments. Hundreds of LAUSD students will also be receiving specially prepared tutorials on each instrument. This week we feature several members of our outstanding horn section: Jason Beaumont, Jennifer Bliman and Joy Armstrong.

We begin with Jennifer performing Chuck Fernandez’s exciting “Scherzo for Horn” from a 2010 recording.

Click Here to view “Scherzo for Horn”

Next up is our current co-principal horn player, Jason Beaumont, who will introduce himself to you as well as giving you some fascinating and entertaining insights into one of the most noble, powerful and hauntingly beautiful instruments in the LA Winds family—the French horn.

Click Here to view Jason’s Horn Demonstration

Finally, we present the ending section of the heroic Schumann Concert Piece for 4 horns that we recorded in concert on April 14, 2019. The soloists include Jennifer, Jason and Joy as well as guest artist Chris Wilson.

Click Here to view “Concert Piece for 4 Horns”

I also want to recognize the 4 other members of the LA Winds outstanding horn section who can be seen in other videos that we’ll be releasing as part of our “Summer Sounds” series–Marcello Olivatto, Michelle Sadic, Phyllis Rautenberg and Lauren White.  I should also add that our entertaining, informative and educational “Summer Sounds” series will continue throughout the fall and winter — right up the time when our live performances resume in a welcoming and safe musical environment.

In our next installment (scheduled for release on September 1st), you’ll meet longtime LA Winds member (and LAUSD teacher) Alicia Pizzi as she introduces herself and her flute – plus a featured performance with her father, woodwind legend, Ray Pizzi.  We’ll begin that program with the entire LA Winds flute section performing the “Dance of the Blessed Spirits” in a beautiful ballet setting from Pina Bausch’s production of Orpheus and Eurydice at the Palais Garnier in 2008. It promises to be another great entry in the “Summer Sounds of Your LA Winds” series.

Many thanks for your continued support and for sharing these videos with your friends, families and social network connections!

Stay safe,
Sincerely,

Stephen P. Piazza
Artistic Director
Los Angeles Symphonic Winds