The Santa Ynez Valley Wind Ensemble, conducted by Sharon Jeskey, visited the 35th annual Sutherland Wind Festival in Fresno on Saturday, March 22. This marks the first time the group has ever performed outside the Santa Ynez Valley.

The festival, which took place at Fresno State University, consisted of a performance of three songs, followed by an instructional clinic with Dr. Lawrence R. Sutherland, for whom the festival is named.

“This is something I've been trying to do for a number of years,” Jeskey says. “Our overall goal was to stretch the ensemble and to get out into other communities. Also, it was an opportunity to play in a fine performance hall.”

Members of the wind ensemble agree that this trip will only improve the wind ensemble.

“The critique the band was able to receive in the follow-up clinic offered by the Fresno State music department built confidence regarding the ability of the ensemble as a whole to produce quality music,” said Felix Fischer, a longtime member of the group, “while giving us some specific tips for the pieces to be played in our upcoming concert.”

Jeskey also had good things to say about the judges.

“I knew that this was a quality festival,” she says, “because they always bring in high-quality adjudicators to judge for them.”

Although this is their first out-of-Valley excursion, the Wind Ensemble is no stranger to performing. Officially established in 1993 by Carl Thompson, the Valley Wind Ensemble has held regular performances in the Santa Ynez Valley for over 20 years, including winter and spring concerts and an annual performance immediately before the Fourth of July parade in Solvang.

They are currently scheduled to perform at the Solvang Gazebo in early June.

For more information about the wind ensemble or about how to join, visit valleywind.weebly.com.

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