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Beginning in the summer of 1990, several meetings by a handful of musicians produced the concept of a professional-level wind orchestra in Ventura County. Named the Gold Coast Wind Ensemble, a call for accomplished musicians went out and the first rehearsal was held in January 1991. Among the co-founders, Clint Dawley was selected as conductor and Michael Doty as associate conductor.
The all-volunteer organization has two primary goals: first, to provide a challenging musical experience for fine local musicians and second, to enhance the artistic life in Ventura County. To this end, the organization is based on the principle of fine performance of quality concert band and wind ensemble repertoire. Due to the demanding nature of the musical literature, membership in the Gold Coast Wind Ensemble is by invitation and audition.
The ensemble has been active throughout the Southern California area. Aside from its own concert schedule, the GCWE has participated in exchange concerts with the Riverside Winds, performed for the Simi Valley, CA, and Ramona, CA, Community Concert Associations, the Thousand Oaks Friends of the Library, and was invited to perform at the gala 100th birthday celebration of famed writer/artist/ceramicist Beatrice Wood at the Happy Valley Foundation in Ojai, CA. At the final concert of its 1996-1997 season, the GCWE was privileged to play under the baton of world-famous conductor Dr. Frederick Fennell at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza's Fred Kavli Theatre. In 2002, we shared a concert with the wind ensemble from California State University, Northridge, Glenn Price, conductor. In 2014, we performed a concert during the season for the Oxnard Community Concert Association.
"We play for the love of music, for ourselves, and for those who listen to us."
What is a Wind Ensemble?
Wind and percussion instruments have long been used for ceremonial and martial occasions. From this tradition grew concert bands, an orchestra without strings. The terms Wind Symphony, Wind Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and Concert Band originated in American secondary schools and universities, and the terms overlap somewhat. All but the wind ensemble connote a large group, which can number from 50 to over 100 musicians.
The first wind ensemble (to use that specific term) was the one founded in 1952 at the Eastman School of Music by Frederick Fennell. The ensemble is built around the concept of one player on a part, except for clarinet. The more intimate setting of the wind ensemble has inspired scores of composers to create music specific to the wind band medium rather than relying on orchestral transcriptions. The GCWE performs a wide variety of music from all genres, from familiar to obscure. Our repertoire fills the gamut from transcriptions of orchestral and film music, musicals, marches, swing band arrangements, and modern classical music specifically written for wind band.