Sierra Nevada Winds Orchestra in concert |

Sierra Nevada Winds Orchestra in concert

An ensemble of 45 accomplished wind, brass and percussion musicians will perform on Saturday 7:30 p.m. in Dietrich Theatre at Sierra College, Rocklin. Nine of these musicians are from the Nevada City/Grass Valley area.

The program that the Sierra Nevada Winds will perform with Bill Hill conducting includes Philip Sparke’s “Marchissimo,” beautiful love songs and “Variations on ‘America,” a Charles Ives composition. The evening is jazzy, rhythmic and uplifting.

Tickets at the door are $8 general admission, $5 seniors and students. Call (530) 269-0395 or log on at for more information.

I am a fairly new member of the Sierra Nevada Winds. My wife and I moved to the area summer of ’04 as I was selected as the new band director in Grass Valley at Lyman Gilmore, Scotten and eventually, Hennessy schools.

I hoped for an exciting and challenging setting to continue my career performing on the trumpet, my primary instrument. Local folks involved with the SNW recommended me to the director of the SNW, Bill Hill. I had been aquainted with Bill professionally for several years, we spoke, I went to a rehearsal and have been a member of the group since.

Not to diminish the integrity or quality of the Nevada County band, which is a fine group, I felt that this 2-hour, round trip journey best suited my artistic desires. The SNW is a great ensemble, filled with very talented musicians, with great leadership. We perform world-class literature to a high degree. I am physically and mentally drained when I drive home but am artistically fulfilled. It is a great experience.

There are many, more talented, individuals from our area who have been involved in the SNW several years longer than I, and I feel fortunate to share in the musical experience.

” John Frantz

I live in Nevada City and am a regular member of the Sierra Nevada Winds Orchestra. While a commute to Roseville seems like a long way to go once a week for a volunteer musical organization, I find the drive worthwhile for the musical rewards of playing in such a superior ensemble. Several of us carpool together most of the time too, sharing the cost.

It’s a pleasant drive with good company and little traffic during the early evening hours. Taken all together, the evening becomes an uplifting musical experience shared with good friends. Who wouldn’t travel to Roseville for such a reward?

” Art Green, tubist

I play trombone in the Sierra Nevada Winds and live in Grass Valley. I understand that you are interested in knowing why we drive to Roseville for rehearsal? I would even drive to Sacramento to play with this group.

There are a number of reasons.

The SNW is an organization of professional musicians and accomplished amateurs, conducted by Bill Hill, retired Director of Bands at Sierra College. His enthusiasm and musicianship alone would be worth the drive. Playing with the winds is by invitation only, so we don’t have to compromise on quality and on the level of music we play.

We are also a “democratic” body, with an elected board and by-laws. This helps maintain profesionalism and insures that decision making is an open process. While many of our members are themselves music teachers, we have accountants, lawyers, engineers, artists, educators and other professions represented. But we are more than an organization, we are a family. Simply put we enjoy each other’s company and usually share dinner before rehearsal, or stop somewhere for ice cream and conversation after rehearsal.

Being a transplant from the Bay Area, I found an instant group of friends who shared my interests, were warm and caring friends, and were playful with a great sense of humor. If someone did not play an instrument, I would say he should learn just to meet my colleagues.

We even pay dues of $40 per year to cover the cost of new music and a small service fee for our conductor. We became a little ambitious this last year and commissioned a work by the British band composer Phil Sparke entitled, “Sierra Nevada,” which we shall play at our sierra college this month.

Another reason I play with the winds is our excellent outreach program to schools. We visit schools in Yuba City before our November concert, and make sure that students receive free tickets to this and our spring concert. We also give four children’s concerts in february where children have a chance to hear the live, rich sound of a symphonic band play a variety of music including their favorites (this years we played the score from Harry Potter).

In terms of musical interest, I find that some of the very best composing today is done for concert bands. Orchestra selections tend to be repetitions of the standards ” band music is innovative, interesting and inspiring. Last year we performed Godzilla Eats Las Vegas complete with Elvis imitator, champagne glasses, and a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation.

” Evan Neilsen, Grass Valley

I have been a member of the Winds since about 1992. At that time, the ensemble met and rehearsed in Nevada City, but as the group attracted and gathered musicians from the Sacramento area, the rehearsal venue shifted southward down highway 49 and the capitol corridor, reaching a kind of equilibrium in Roseville.

When the commute to rehearsals became longer, many of us had to have asked, “Is it worth the drive?” For me the answer was obviously yes.


Some of us in Nevada County car pool to the Thursday night rehearsals in Roseville. During the commute, my carpool companions and I have stimulating discussions on such subjects as private aircraft, the great pyramids of Egypt, politics, automotive repair, the Mayan calendar, bio-diesel, UFO’s, … and of course music. Fuel expenses are shared. The time we spend on our ride together is sometimes the highlight of my week.

The majority of the founding members of the Sierra Nevada Winds are still with the group. They and I have been making music together for 14 years. In our time together, we have witnessed the near bankruptcy of the band in the early years and its subsequent recovery and growth. We focused our musical objectives together. We built audiences. We took time off from our jobs to play children’s concerts together”because we love music. We watched each other’s children grow up, and we grieved when some of our own member musicians or their loved ones died.

This is not just a band.

This is my musical family, a family with a history of overcoming adversity together and working together to make beautiful music.

” Paul Trethewey

I was reminded that our ensemble originated in Nevada County. Our first performance, with a group of 15, was in October 1990 at the Lake of the Pines clubhouse. Our quest for appropriate (free) rehearsal space kept us heading southwest until we found Roseville High School.

Some of the quotes: Paul Trethewey, alto saxophone: “The word that comes to mind is ‘family’.

Some of us have been together for 15-16 years.” Laurie Piner, flute: “I can’t find a group of this quality in Grass Valley.”

I would drive anywhere to play with the Winds. I love the people. I love the music. Bill Hill, our conductor, is the best.

” Margaret Wegner, clarinet

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