Westchester Symphonic Winds to Celebrate 30 Years

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by Barrett Seaman – 

One flautist is a banker; the oboist-cum-French horn player is a veterinarian.  Among the 60-some musicians who make up the Westchester Symphonic Winds (WSW) ensemble are internet sales reps and programmers, doctors and lawyers and a special events planner. Some have been with the group for more than 20 years. To be sure, there are also professional musicians—or teachers whose careers have been devoted to music, but by and large, this impressive ensemble group is “amateur” in the true sense of the word: they are lovers of the art they create. Maestro Curt Ebersole, who has served as music director and conductor for the past ten years, prefers to call his musicians “para-professionals.”

The ensemble is comprised of wind instruments only (plus percussion)—everything from tubas and trombones to flutes and flugelhorns—no strings attached (as it were).

On Saturday night, May 12, they will take the Tarrytown Music Hall stage to celebrate their 30th anniversary. The program, which will feature favorite pieces from the group’s repertoire as well as guest conductor appearances, will be repeated on the Fourth of July at Caramoor’s Venetian Theater in Katonah, the other of the WSW’s regular performing venues.

They have performed outside Westchester as well: at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in 2010, at the  2017 New York State Band Directors Association Symposium, the Association of Concert Bands Convention in 2012, and a collaboration with the North Shore Concert Band to present concerts at Northwestern University and at the Palace Theater in Stamford in 2015 and 2016.

The group also works with area schools to encourage bands and instrument playing. Part of the money they raise goes toward the purchase of instruments and sheet music for schoolchildren.

Maestro Ebersole, who retired five years ago as the band and orchestra director at Northern Valley High School in Tappan, New Jersey, has recently been hired as The Masters School band and orchestra director. He admires the “sense of purpose” his adult musicians display. “There is a real need for continuing musical experience in the U.S.,” he observes. And the primary beneficiaries, he believes, are the musicians themselves.

Those who attend the May 12 concert (see What’s Happening, page 28) may purchase raffle tickets. The winner will be given a five-minute conducting lesson from Maestro Ebersole and then the opportunity to lead the Westchester Symphonic Wind ensemble in John Philip Sousa’s rousing Stars and Stripes Forever.

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