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!

Deborah Weber

Wine Country Band Camp Committee Chair

Wine Country Band Camp Concert Program

Berger Center at Oakmont, Santa Rosa, CA

June 25, 2019

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

Our Three Guest Conductors

Jeff Peterson grew up in Minnesota and graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota with a degree in music education. For several years, he taught music in several towns in Minnesota before joining the MacPhail Center for the Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota as administrator and teacher in their Early Childhood Music Program. He and is wife Angela moved to Santa Barbara, California in the fall of 1988 where Jeff worked for the Children’s Creative Project teaching classroom music in the public schools. In 1990, Jeff was hired to teach K-8 classroom and instrumental music in Buellton, CA. In 1995, Jeff received his master’s degree in music education from California Lutheran University. In 1999,Jeff was hired to teach instrumental music at Goleta Valley Jr Hi in Goleta, CA. He became the conductor of a New Horizon Band called the Prime Time Band in 2005 when founding director, Van Vander Ark retired. Jeff loves directing this group! It is the highlight of his week! In 2007, the Prime Time Band traveled to Washington D.C. to perform. Jeff is an active music professional playing classical, rock and jazz bass in groups in the area.

Roy Ernst, Professor Emeritus at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, started the first New Horizons Band in 1991. Roy has written articles and books on music education, conducting, and performance. He earned a Ph. D. from The University of Michigan and has received honors from the National Association for Music Education, Delta Omicron, Wayne State University, and The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Roy was awarded an honorary doctorate from Western University in London,Ontario. In addition to teaching at Eastman, he has taught at Wayne State University, Georgia State University, and the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music in Sydney, Australia. Roy is 80 and still loves teaching, conducting and playing music. He enjoys bike riding, camping and traveling. His wife and best friend, Pat Dugan, is a food journalist and winner of several national recipe contests.

Lew Sbrana received a B.A. in Music Education from Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA in 1956. Graduate work in Music Education was done at Chico State University, San Francisco State University and the American Band College, Southern Oregon College, Ashland. After serving four years on active duty in the U.S. Navy, he returned to California to begin his teaching career. In 1993, he was honored as “Band Director of the Year” by the Northern California Band Directors Association. Lew retired June 1995, completing 33 years of teaching junior and senior high school music. In 1982, he helped create the Healdsburg Community Band. It was during this time as a leader of the HCB that he discovered the joy of portraying John Philip Sousa and presenting programs typifying a Sousa Band concert. In January 1999, he founded the New Horizons Band of Sonoma County, which began with 12 folks and has now grown to over 80 members. Lew attributes this to a love of making music and the joy of sharing it with others.