Wind Symphony of Clovis celebrates the season with Brooke Ferdinandsen on English horn and a wide-ranging winter concert

Brooke Ferdinandsen and her English horn.

Editor’s note: I have been pushing folks to hear the Wind Symphony of Clovis for a while now. I’m impressed with the musicality and heart of this hard-working group, which has already achieved national acclaim after just a few short years.

Symphony member Brad Riley asked me if he could put on his writer’s hat and tell us about the group’s next concert, which will include a wide variety of musical selections sure to delight the ensemble’s growing fan base. It performs its winter holiday concert at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, in the Paul Shaghoian Concert Hall located on the campus of Clovis North High School.

(If Riley’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s responsible for his much-talked-about new music calendar for the area that he compiles in an easily accessible spreadsheet. I invite you to take a look.)

Here is his take on the concert:

The auditioned ensemble will begin with a contemporary selection entitled “Early Light” conducted by co-founder Christine Keenan. The selection is as joyous and as full of wonder as is the title.The composition quotes melodic material from “The Star Spangled Banner.” The composer, Carolyn Bremer, a passionate baseball fan since childhood, drew upon her feelings of happy anticipation at hearing the anthem played before ball games when writing the piece. The slapstick heard near the end echoes the crack of the bat on a long home run.


Wind Symphony co-founder Gary P. Gilroy will then conduct two of his original arrangements of traditional holiday music. The second, “Christmas In The Valley of the Kings,” is a musically captivating arrangement of “We Three Kings” and is dedicated to Kingsburg High School Bands. The cleverly written arrangement features a number of meter changes that create a plethora of variations of the traditional Christmas carol throughout. Toward the end of the piece, the arrangement calls for a wonderful piccolo trumpet descant duet from the upper balcony that will reverberate throughout the hall in glorious fashion.

Christine Keenan will then return to conduct the next two selections. The first is Morten Lauridsen’s solemn composition “O Magnum Mysterium.” The piece mimics the classic Gregorian choral pieces in style but with some modern influences as well. Speaking of the piece, the composer said, “I wanted this piece to resonate immediately and deeply into the core of the listener, to illumine through sound.” The beauty and grandeur of the selection will enlighten listeners and touch on every sense musically.

The next selection is entitled “Minor Alterations #2 — Carols from the Dark Side.” Composer David Loveien has arranged a number of traditional Christmas carols in a not-so-traditional way. In fact, some of the performers seem to think it should have been entitled “Major Alterations in a Minor Key” due to the fact that the listener will be quick to notice the change in modes that occurs throughout the arrangement from the original major tonalities to minor. It’s a brilliant arrangement that will challenge the listener to be musically flexible in just about every way.

Gilroy will then return to the podium to conduct the classic wind band standard “Russian Christmas Music” by Alfred Reed. The composition is one of the most frequently performed pieces of concert band literature and is based on 16th century Russian Christmas carols. The piece was written to convey the sounds of Eastern Orthodox liturgical music, which uses the human voice exclusively. English horn player Brooke Ferdinandsen will be featured on this selection.

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Ferdinandsen said this about the piece and her solo: “It’s an amazing piece and I love the slow, mysterious feel of the beginning and several strong, powerful moments throughout. If you listen closely, the English Horn melody reappears in several parts of the piece. It’s definitely the most exposed solo I’ve ever played in any wind band or orchestra setting.”

This will be a grand ending full of sonorous sounds that will most likely “shake” the foundations of the Shaghoian concert hall.

General seating tickets are $10 ($5 for students and seniors) and will be available at the door.

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (1)

  • Brad Riley

    Thank you for what you do in our community! Your support of the local Arts is greatly appreciated!


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