A Musical Oasis: The Santa Cruz Summer Winds

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Courtesy of April Brennan | /

The Santa Cruz Summer Winds rehearsing on June 4 in Sierra Vista, Arizona with the Sierra Vista Community Band. The group brings amatuer and professional musicians together to play wind ensembles in southern Arizona. 

Even in the blisteringly hot summer, Tucson is a vibrant place for art and music. One such opportunity to enjoy music in Tucson is the Santa Cruz Summer Winds, founded and directed by April Brennan, a local bassoonist with big ideas and the attitude to make them happen. The Daily Wildcat had an opportunity to sit down with Brennan and discuss the current season for the Santa Cruz Summer Winds.

Daily Wildcat: How would you describe the role of SCSW in Tucson?

April Brennan: The role of the Santa Cruz Summer Winds is to provide an opportunity for musicians, amateur and professional alike, to come together and maintain their performance skills in Tucson over the summer. The group attracts members from all walks of life to play engaging, fun and challenging music.

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DW: What year did the SCSW start?

AB: The Santa Cruz Summer Winds was founded in 2013 .

DW: How has the SCSW grown since 2013?

AB: Well, our first year we only had one concert, and we had virtually no resources (we borrowed music and equipment for other groups in town). This year, in 2016, we have expanded to becoming a nonprofit known as the Santa Cruz Music Groups of Southern Arizona , which includes the Santa Cruz Summer Winds, the Santa Cruz Jazz Collective , and the Santa Cruz Chamber Ensembles . We have a rotating roster of 55-60 members and we are supported non-financially by the Fred Fox School of Music at the UA.

DW: How far into your season are you and what do you have planned for the rest of the summer?

AB: We’re about halfway through our season this year. We have a concert on June 18th, which will include Johan de Meij’s “Gandalf” from his “Symphony No. 1”, "The Lord of the Rings", Gunther Schuller’s “Tribute to Rudy Wiedoeft” and Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” .

We have another concert on July 2, which will feature patriotic music, as it is so close to Independence Day. On July 4, we’ve been invited to perform for the town of Marana,Arizona at their Star Spangled Spectacular, which is huge opportunity for us, as it’ll be a gigantic audience.

In July, the Santa Cruz Summer Winds is going on tour to Southern California. We’ll be opening for the Huntington Beach Concert Band, as wells as seeing the sights and visiting Disneyland.

DW: How do you choose music for SCSW and what kind of audience do you try to appeal to?

AB: Well, we choose music for ourselves first, and then based on marketability for the summer. A lot of our audience is an older generation, so we play wind ensemble standards and a ton of patriotic music. A lot of our music is for an audience with a a more mature age and nature.

I listen to a lot of music in my spare time, and I’m inspired by music made by the Wind Ensemble at the Fred Fox School of Music, the Army Band and the Eastman Wind Ensemble. If there’s a piece my directors and I think would be a good fit, we include it in our programs.

DW: Where do you perform?

AB: The Santa Cruz Summer Winds performs at the Community Performing Arts Center down in Green Valley, Arizona .

DW: What about the music of the Santa Cruz Summer Winds would interest our readers?

AB: We’re a dynamic group with a lot of youth and energy. We’ve got great young directors with awesome musical ideas. Our group is a great opportunity to hear friends and family perform, and we’re super welcoming to new players.

DW: How can readers get involved with the Santa Cruz Summer Winds?

AB: Rehearsals take place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in room 170 at the Fred Fox School of Music. If readers are interested in getting involved with the group, they should contact me at manager@scswinds.net.


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