Wednesday, February 26, 2014

College of the Canyons Symphonic Band: Thanks for the Memories

Some new ensembles grow into mature adulthood, and some are cut off in their infancy. I'm sorry to report that the latest incarnation of the Symphonic Band at College of the Canyons – the band I led for three exciting semesters – falls into the latter category.

The COC Band, May 2013, crowning one year of growth from an initial enrollment of one student.

A Music department without a band is like Phys. Ed. department without a field, a Theater department with only one-person plays, an Art department without a gallery. But, California Community Colleges are under tremendous pressure these days. Underenrolled classes are always in danger of being cancelled. Of course, growing a new symphonic band – by definition a large ensemble with upwards of 40 players – is an arduous and complex job under the best of circumstances, and given the complications involved, growing a new symphonic band program at COC was not going to be an overnight affair.

A nice photo montage from our very first concert, Dec. 2012.

This was at least the third time COC has offered and cancelled a band in its 45-year history, so as the band's music is refiled – along with any hopes for its future – it's worth reviewing some of the good we achieved in but three semesters:
  • performance of music from at least six different centuries 
  • performance of music by some of the word's greatest and most important composers 
  • commissioning of new music for band 
  • performance of one World Premiere, with another planned
  • guest clinicians who are active professional musicians 
  • student soloists 
  • collaboration with student composers 
  • added value of 'harmonie' and brass ensembles, in addition to the full band 
  • first performances of newly arranged music, not heard perhaps since 1865, from an archive of Civil War band music, marking the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War 
  • and what pleased me most, the demonstrated learning, growth, and improvement among the band's players.

So, I say farewell to the band and give thanks to its players and supporters. I'll leave up our Facebook page for a time. It's a nice record of some of the good things we did. You'll find various sights and sounds there from our three interesting and fun concerts, including concert videos, photos, fliers, and programs.

The curtain closes with the last music we made, unaware of how silent we'd be after that good night. If I learn of any new hope for the band, you'll find the news here.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

College of the Canyons Symphonic Band: Spring 2014!

It's time once again to enroll for the wonderful Symphonic Band at College of the Canyons. I'll use this blog entry as a resource for the band for this semester, so check back for new information added at the bottom. We also have a College of the Canyons Symphonic Band Facebook page you can read and follow.

Our theme for Spring is "Around the World in 80 Minutes: A Celebration of International Band Music." We'll also continue our fruitful relationship with composer/tubist William Roper, our Artist-in-Residence for 2013-2014.

Dr. Ray Burkhart conducts the COC Symphonic Band, Dec. 2, 2013

The Spring term begins on February 10, 2014, and since that is a Monday, it's also the first class meeting/rehearsal. 6pm to 10pm on Monday nights, except for holidays. Generally, the woodwind/harmonie ensemble meets from 6-7pm, the full band from 7-9pm, and the brass ensemble from 9-10pm.

College of the Canyons, a part of the California Community College system, is located in Santa Clarita (Valencia), just north of CalArts, a short distance north of the intersection of Interstate 5 and Highway 14. The Music Building – Pico Canyon Hall – is fairly new and is well suited for band rehearsals. We meet in room 202 (PCOH 202). Our May 19 concert will once again be given in the wonderful acoustic of the lobby of the COC University Center.

Enrollment is open now for Fall term. The main COC site is New students will want to read all about COC, giving special attention to the New Students page. There are also special pages for High School Students, Continuing Students (those enrolled last semester), Returning Students (who once attended COC, but not last semester), and those who wish to Audit only. Please read these pages to find out what fits you best.

Dr. Ray gives interesting program notes to the audience!

Given COC's proximity to Los Angeles and Hollywood, a great many world-class musicians live nearby and are friends of mine. COC Symphonic Band members have already enjoyed visits from, and have performed along side, outstanding  concert and recording musicians and composers. I also encourage students who are well prepared to solo with the band to audition to solo. Student composers, too, who play in the band might be able to have their works performed. The COC Symphonic Band experience is a rich one.

If you have any questions, please enter them below, or email me at Thanks.

Dr. Ray