After a several year hiatus, Wine Country Band Camp returned to Sonoma County. The New Horizons Band of Sonoma County, celebrating its 20th anniversary, hosted the Camp. Over 70 Campers checked into the Odd Fellows Hall on Sunday afternoon, June 23, 2019. Following an excellent dinner, Campers had the opportunity to give a quick read of the music we would be rehearsing throughout the week. Conductors for the Camp included host, Lew Sbrana of the New Horizons of Sonoma County Band, Jeff Peterson of the Prime Time Band of Santa Barbara and Founder of New Horizons International, Dr Roy Ernst. These three gentlemen brought humor, and much patience to the podium. Following our “reading” there was some trepidation about our ability to actually perform a concert by Thursday evening. With that in mind, we said goodnight, hopefully to meet again on Monday morning.
Surprisingly, everyone returned with fresh eyes on Monday and rehearsals began in earnest. Each conductor selected five pieces of music to rehearse, fora total of 15 pieces, with the understanding that the band would present 9 selections during our Thursday afternoon concert. It was a daunting task, but one that conductors and musicians alike, gladly accepted.
All rehearsals, breaks and Camp meals were held at the Odd Fellows Hall in Santa Rosa. Campers felt it was very convenient to have one facility for all the activities. In addition to intense rehearsals, Campers were also treated to dinner music by a New Horizons band trio and to dancing, courtesy of the New Horizons Swing Band. I believe every Camper got to his/her feet at least once during this lively performance.
On Tuesday afternoon, clinicians from the Santa Rosa Symphony worked with sectionals. Roy Zajac, principal clarinetist, Kathleen Reynolds, principal flutist, and Doug Morton, principal trumpet (retired) shared their tips and tricks regarding intonation, tonguing, practice techniques and, with the Camp conductors, worked on some of the more intricate passages in the musical selections. These professionals clearly love what they do musically and very willingly passed along their expertise. Campers agreed they will be able to take what they learned back to their home bands.
Because Wine Country Band Camp would not be the same without some wine, an optional wine tasting/tour was offered to Campers on Wednesday afternoon. A chartered bus took 50 Campers and their guests to Dry Creek Vineyard in beautiful Dry Creek Valley. This vineyard is owned by Dave Stare, a trombone player with the New Horizons Band of Sonoma County. Campers and guests were greeted with glasses of Pinot Grigio and divided into two groups to learn about the winery and the history of wine making in the valley. Later they enjoyed additional tastes, paired with delectable appetizers. Entertainment was provided by the Russian River Ramblers, a Trad Jass group. It just so happens that winery owner and trombonist, Dave Stare, also plays banjo with the Russian River Ramblers! Again, Campers were eagerly dancing, this time to the sounds of Dixieland.
Thursday morning came much too soon. With one final rehearsal the 15 original selections pared down to 9. The morning rehearsal was a spit and polish on all 9 pieces, followed by packing up all fo the instruments and moving to our concert space in the beautiful community in Oakmont. Quail Inn provided lunch for Campers and guests. Views extended into the Sonoma Valley and across the Mayacamas Mountains. The Berger Center was the site of the afternoon concert and the Camp Band performed to a packed house. Following the concert, everyone was invited to celebrate the New Horizons Band of Sonoma County’s 20th anniversary with cake and beverages.
It was finally time to say good-bye with promises to perhaps meet again at a future camp. (South Puget Sound New Horizons Band Camp – July 14-18, 2020, Olympia, Washington). Thanks go to everyone on the local committee and all the volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the Camp a success. Thanks especially to our three conductors, Lew Sbrana for his patience, Jeff Peterson for the awesome Minnesota jokes, and Roy Ernst for his vision in establishing such a wonderful organization. It has been proven that performing music helps keep up young and, as the sounds of “Birth of Rock and Roll” echo in our heads, it is absolutely true!
Wine Country Band Camp Committee Chair
Conductor: Roy Ernst
Birth of Rock and Roll …………. arr. Johnny Vinson
Oxford Street March ………….. Eric Coast, arr. Douglas Wagner
Sea to Shining Sea ……………Ward-Bates, arr. Warren Barker
Conductor: Jeff Peterson
Amazing Grace ………… Frank Ticheli
Best of the West ………… arr. Michael Story
Sedona ………… Steven Reineke
Conductor: Lew Sbrana
Anthem for Winds and Percussion ………… Claude T. Smith
Diplomat March ………… John Philip Sousa, arr. Keith Brion
Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch ………… arr. Johnny Vinson