June 7, 2016 -- In a salute to the Stars and Stripes, the Northwinds symphonic band will perform a showcase of patriotic standards, Broadway and movie pieces, marches, and other classics during its annual Flag Day concert this Sunday, June 12th at Clifton Park in Sea Cliff.
The ensemble, under the direction of Helen Bauer, has for nearly a decade entertained audiences across Long Island and stars about 70 talented musicians.
They come from many stripes, ranging in age from ten to 80, among them current and retired music teachers and players engaged in a variety of other occupations, recent college graduates, and the youngest members – two middle schoolers - a trumpeter and a euphonium player; and a ten year-old percussionist.
“It is a close and loyal group,” Ms. Bauer said to Northwordnews. “A really great group of people. I think we all feel very proud of what we do.”
Unfurled by Don Ranieri, Scott Collins, and Ms. Bauer back in 2007, Northwinds was an outgrowth of the outstanding Grumman (later Northrup-Grumman) symphonic band, which was comprised of employees and other musicians from the region, Ms. Bauer explained.
When that ensemble broke up largely due to post 9/11 security clearance precautions making their Friday afternoon rehearsals unworkable, Ms. Bauer, who had been a band teacher and director in the Baldwin Schools for 35 years, was approached by Mr. Ranieri and Mr. Collins about the possibility of directing a band based on the North Shore. With the support of the North Shore Schools Continuing Education Program and its director Dean Miller, a band teacher in the District, Northwinds was born.
Mr. Collins, who served as the group’s manager, passed away suddenly last year.
“Scott was a huge force and mentor in getting this whole thing going,” said Ms. Bauer.
Rehearsing Tuesday evenings at North Shore High School while school is in session, Ms. Bauer said that the band performs about 40 compositions each year, chosen from the nearly 100 that she considers. And if you’ve been following the group for the past decade, it’s unlikely you’ve heard the same piece from one year to the next.
“We rarely repeat [a piece]," she said, “except for The Stars and Stripes Forever, God Bless America, and of course, The Star Spangled Banner. We have an extensive library and we’re constantly expanding.”
The group's season runs from September to early July. Some or their concerts are annual events such as their Veterans Day, Flag Day, and Fourth of July performances, while others can vary from year to year. Last month the group played as a part of the Freeport Arts Council Subscription series.
Of all the concerts they perform, Ms. Bauer said, Northwinds is especially proud of its Veterans concert each November.
“It is a celebration of veterans in the true sense,” she explained, emphasizing the word “celebration.”
“We try to acknowledge all of the veterans,” she continued, “by including pieces from past wars” from World War I to more recent conflicts. “We work hard at that concert to make sure we are sensitive to all of our veterans - celebrating them in the best possible way we can.”
The concert at Clifton Park this Sunday is sponsored by the Village of Sea Cliff, the Sea Cliff Civic Association and the Sea Cliff Arts Council. It will begin at 5 pm. If it should rain, it will be held at North Shore High School. Admission to all Northwinds concerts is free.
“We feel it is one of our missions to continue the tradition of John Philip Sousa,” Ms. Bauer explained, “and spread band music as much as we can.”
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