PUC Wind Ensemble Opens 1996 CBDNA convention

David Castro

The Pacific Union College Symphonic Wind Ensemble, directed by Dr. Kenneth Narducci, performed at the College Band Directors National Association West/Northwest Division Conference held at the University of Nevada, Reno, March 21 - 23, 1996. After submitting an audition tape in September, the group was one of only twelve bands selected from the western U.S. and Canada to perform at the conference. PUC was also the only "small" school to perform, thus representing the finest in achievement for schools of its size.

The atmosphere on the brand new bus was surprisingly energetic. It was 5 a.m. and the Pacific Union College Symphonic Wind Ensemble was on its way to perform as one of twelve featured bands at the 1996 College Band Directors National Association, Western/Northwestern Division Conference. We were scheduled to begin our performance eight hours later at 1:30 p.m., in Reno, Nevada.

The annual conference was taking place on the campus of the University of Nevada- Reno and was the first for which our ensemble would ever perform. Furthermore, we were honored with the keynote position among the fine ensembles to offer performances that weekend, which included groups from the University of Montana, Washington State University, University of Idaho, University of Calgary, University of Oregon and the University of Hawaii.


After several event-less hours in the month-old bus and a brief stop for breakfast, we arrived in Reno. Job one was to get changed. Given the length of our commute many of us had decided to travel "dressed-down." So, we eventually found changing rooms and assumed presentable.

Next came warm-ups. Well, that's what we thought was coming next. Instead we brought our instruments inside the building and then sat in the auditorium while the University of Montana Symphonic Wind Ensemble warmed up. The quality of their rehearsal really gave us a look at the league of performers with whom we were associating. Our turn to warm up came next. Having the hail to ourselves, we took full advantage of the opportunity to acclimatize ourselves . . . and work out some butterflies'!


The performance began ten or fifteen minutes after warm-up ended. We played Kitty Hawk by John Cheetham, Wine From These Grapes by W. Francis McBeth, Illyrian Dances by Guy Woolfenden, and The Inferno and The Ascension from Robert W. Smith's The Divine Comedy. The mind-set for this concert was truly a new experience for most, if not all, of us.

The absence of adjudicators allowed us to calm down just a bit, but the lack of a home audience didn't allow us to really relax. In fact, playing for a hall full of band directors and collegiate wind players demanded an especially fine performance, even though all the work for our audition had been done the year before and simply being invited was the evidence of our distinction. We would take home no marks, grades, or criticisms, but nerves were in full force.

The performance went just fine. We were not without flaw, but we never expected to be otherwise. The audience was a courteous, attentive one. All in all, it went quite well.


This concert was the first item on our itinerary for the weekend, so it was all downhill after that. Soon after us came the University of Montana Symphonic Wind Ensemble. It was quite easy to sit back and listen to others play now that our own offering had passed. Listening to other bands play was the second reason for attending the concert.

We heard six different bands in our time there, and they were all worth the while. There was a great variety in instrumentation, repertoire, size, style, balance, etc., and listening to other bands really helped us get a handle on our own band's "aural fingerprint."

We heard some things that we liked and some that we didn't like. Our hope is that these impressions, both positive and negative, will hold fast in our minds and help to shape our own musicianship both immediately and into the future.


Listening to and offering music, however, was not the whole story. There was another element that went into our presence at the CDBNA conference. As the only small college invited, and being the only representatives of Seventh-day Adventist higher education in attendance, we felt a certain responsibility to display the musical expertise we have all gained through Adventist education. Our message was in large part. We are small in number, but dedicated and hard-working."

Our agenda for those two days had two specific items: 1) play well and 2) listen up. These criteria for success were met with flying colors. Furthermore, our audience came away with a new-found sense of respect for the kinds of musicians Seventh-day Adventist education can produce.

This article was printed in the Spring 1997 issue of Notes, magazine of the International Adventist Musicians Association.