History of the Wind Symphony
Duane Carroll, Music Director and Conductor (ret.)
In the beginning.....
When Lee Russell, then director of Acalanes Adult Education, first formed the group in 1980 it was known as the Walnut Creek Community Band. It had 24 musicians and its conductor was Farrell J. Reilly, a Walnut Creek musician and music store owner who agreed to conduct the band for one year just to get it started. The band rehearsed in the old library at Del Valle High School in Walnut Creek. The rehearsal space had a low ceiling. Chairs and music stands had to be setup and taken down each rehearsal. There was almost no percussion equipment and no music library. When I became the new conductor in 1981, I was able to move the rehearsal site to Campolindo High School in Moraga where I was the director of instrumental music.
What's in a name.....
Soon thereafter came the thought of changing the name to better reflect the band's new location. We became known as the Lamorinda Community Band, representing primarily the communities of Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda. We played our first concert in the band room at Campolindo High School in December of 1981. With 26 musicians, an audience of 40, and a special guest appearance by Santa, we were on our way!
Fourteen years later the band presented its first performance in the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. Now numbering over 60 members, having a broader repertoire and playing for larger audiences, the group needed a name that was once again geographically more representative of its membership and reflective of the music it offered the public.
The name Contra Costa Wind Symphony seemed to fit. Contra Costa because musicians in the group now come from throughout the county (and some from beyond) and Wind Symphony because that better describes the breadth of our musical focus.
A special experience.....
In our concerts we introduce many band composers, and through the years the names of the most accomplished composers come up more often. We hope the public will become as familiar with the names of Alfred Reed, Roger Nixon, Warren Barker, Jerry Bilik, Steven Bulla, Frigyes Hidas, James Barnes or Steven Reineke, as they are with Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy and Ravel.
It is sometimes a matter of convincing more people to take a chance -- come to a wind symphony concert -- the music you hear will be something tried and true, and something new and exciting. Selections will vary from what you might hear at a summer concert in the park, to the sounds you would hear in the more formal setting of a concert hall.