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Cerritos College band plays in 35th Annual Dr. Lawrence R. Sutherland Wind Festival

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“It’s a big deal to be that one band,” said David Betancourt, Cerritos College band director after the Cerritos College band was selected to play alongside the Fresno State University band at the 35th Annual Dr. Lawrence R. Sutherland Wind Festival.

About 50 students represented Cerritos College at the festival which was held from March 21 to 23.

More than 20 bands ranging from middle school level to the university level performed and received judge feedback, Cerritos College did not preform to be judged since it was selected to play in the final concert with the Fresno State Band.

Betancourt said that Cerritos College has been attending the festival for about three years and he was surprised and honored to be asked by Dr. Gary Gilroy, the director of bands for Fresno State University, to perform in the final concert for the event.

“It’s just a big deal because the bar is set so high. I was really humbled and grateful that he asked (The Cerritos College band).”

The offer from Gilroy gave Betancourt the assurance that he had confidence in how the Cerritos College band performs.

According to Betancourt, since August of 2013, all the work put into the concerts and performances by the Cerritos College band was preparation for the weekend trip to Fresno State.

John Conti, who played with the percussion session of the band said that during rehearsals Betancourt focused on the band having really good sound and tone from the instruments.

He went on to add that there was also focus on investing in the emotion of the music.

At the start of the semester, Freddy Villalobos who played 2nd chair trumpet during the festival, was already preparing for the band’s performance since he has attended this festival three times previous.

But this year proved to be different for Villalobos as he joined his band mates to preform at the festival.

“When I heard of this (the performance) I was actually kind of shocked … after listening to ( The Fresno State band) it was interesting, I really love (The Fresno State band)” Villalobos said.

He went on to say it was interesting to hear the sound of the band and the technical way it preforms with having the home field advantage.

Cerritos College preformed four pieces for its performance at Fresno State.

Betancourt spent time to re-write some of the pieces so they can be played by the band.

The pieces played were, Symphony No.1 Lord of the Rings, Mvt. I. Gandalf, Symphony No. 5 in D Major Mvt III Romanza, Scythian Suite Chuzbog and the Dance of the Evil Spirits and Candide Suite Mvt. I The Best of All Possible Worlds, Mvt. II Westphalia Chorale and Battle Scene, Mvt. III Auto-da-fe.

While playing these pieces at the festival, Betancourt said he and the band members had something to prove.

“We had to pick music that was going to represent the highest caliber of musicianship within our group, and in bands in general. We had to be able to showcase this is what a band should sound like.”

Betancourt said that the performance produced high spirits for both himself and his students.

“As a director I was standing in front of them and I could feel their confidence.” Betancourt added.

Not only was confidence in the air but education was there too, trumpet player Gabriel Garcia said he took a lot out of this festival as he hopes to one day become a music director.

“it’s always a great learning experience, from all aspects. In this particular one it was a great learning experience because we get to see different bands. And alongside with that we get to see their conductors and directors.”

He said that even though playing for a venue like Frenso State is a rewarding experience within itself he is always watching for how a conductor rehearses a band.

And that knowledge is one of the biggest things he takes away from a trip like the festival.

“Little things like that … you begin to learn from at an early stage.” Garcia said.

Garcia’s band mate and piccolo player, Summer Wilson said that during her trip Fresno State stood out as a place of possible transfer for her.

She agreed with Garcia, that as a music performer it is interesting to see how the conductors work, but for her she was interested in seeing who she could possibly work under if she were accepted into Fresno State.

Both Garcia and Wilson have attended the festival one other time before, and Garcia said the pressure was on this time as the band performed next to Fresno State.

For Wilson, she found the pressure coming from just being selected, she said that looking back on past festivals Gilroy usually chooses university bands and it was “mind-blowing” for Cerritos College to play with Fresno State”

“For him to invite us as a community college, where we have community members from all over who aren’t necessarily music majors but they just love to play, it shows the potential that anyone can have.” Wilson said.

Garcia went on to say that Cerritos College has received a lot of
recognition for what the band does musically, and that added to the
pressure of the conference.

Cerritos College will be receiving more recognition as Betancourt has been selected to return to the festival next year as a judge.

This means that the Cerritos College band will not be able to travel and perform at the festival.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for him and for (Cerritos College) and also it’s representation for our whole program.” Garcia said.

Betancourt said he is trying to find another option for his band students since they cannot attend the festival next year.

“I think they really enjoy the experience, they enjoy the travel. Just everything about it and what we did.”

 

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