First Coast Wind Ensemble – 22nd Season Fall Concert Celebration

Cha Thorpe

Photo courtesy of Devon Redding

An enchanting evening filled with flutes, horns, trumpets and an array of instruments arranged by the First Coast Wind Ensemble was echoed through Terry Concert Hall, September 29, 2011. It marked 22 years of service and celebration to the city of Jacksonville. Musical delight provided by conductor Artie Clifton, associate conductor Don Reynolds, music educators, music professionals and music students, all came together to give the gift of music.

The First Coast Wind Ensemble provides concerts free and open to the community organized with all volunteer musicians, dedicating their time and talents to entertain the masses with a variety of music from folksongs to marches. The audience included all different ages and backgrounds there to enjoy the musical talents.  The occasion was billed as an evening of “Suite Treats” and one of which was a guest performance provided by noted pianist Rich Ridenour.

Ridenour is well known as a performer but also for providing musical education and musical outreach programs to youth. He joined the ensemble for the last two performances of the evening featuring “Brazil,” written in 1939 by Brazilian composer Ary Barroso, and the evening’s last performance, “Root Beer Rag.” This was an instrumental piece from songwriter, pianist and six time Grammy winner Billy Joel on this 1974 album “Streetlife Serenade.” Ridenour was noted to arrange both pieces for the evening.

The other notable performances of the evening included “Children’s March ‘Over the Hills and Far Away,’” composed in 1919 by Percy Grainger, one of the composer’s first original pieces and not sampled from other folksongs or melodies; “A Longford Legend: Young Molly Bawn” was also among the notable performances of the evening. In 1996 composer Robert Sheldon based this work along with two others from 18th century Irish poems. Sheldon contributed these works as a “tribute to the wonderful music of Grainger, Holst and Vaughan Williams.”

All of the performances of the evening, whether buoyant or somber, were masterful and exquisitely arranged and possessed elite musical quality that continues to gain admiration and support with every music note shared.

Each performance was met with raucous applause. The audience was engaged and enthused. Patrons included youth and members of greater generations, all together enjoying the same music of historical and cultural value.

“I really enjoyed the performance. I used to be a part of my high school band so I liked being on the other side,” said freshman Ladarius Nealey. “I did think, however, that I would see more JU students in attendance but it is also good to see people from the community come out and support them.”

Though there was a lack of JU students in attendance there was not a lack of audience gusto as observed by tenor saxophonist John Peasant.

“Overall the audience response was great, I think they truly enjoyed our final song with guest pianist Rich Ridenour,” Peasant said. “This is my third season with First Coast Wind Ensemble and we always get positive responses from our audiences.”

As for future performances there will be opportunities to experience the talents of First Coast Wind Ensemble again for their holiday concert, “Sounds of the Season,” scheduled for December 2, 2011 at Terry Concert Hall.