Strike up the band

By Ted Holteen Herald staff writer

Learn music young, and it stays with you for life, kind of like riding a bike.

But to extend the metaphor to apply to the newly formed Durango Civic Symphonic Winds, that first time back in the saddle would put you somewhere in the middle of the pack of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.

“I was in honor band in high school, but it had been 20 years since I’d touched it,” said Andrea Kirkpatrick, who will play her trombone in public tonight for the first time in two decades.

The Civic Winds is a hodgepodge of more than 50 local musicians who formed in January afterRuth Katzin, who teaches flute at her namesake downtown music store and studios, invited them. After just four rehearsals, the band will make its debut tonight playing the first set in the Fort Lewis College Concert Band’s annual spring concert. Mark Walters is the faculty director of the student band. He also is the director of Civic Winds, stepping into that role by Katzin’s invitation.

“I was really worried about what it was going to look like, but I dropped the baton on this group of strangers on April 3, and what came in was beautiful instrumentation,” Walters said.“I’ve been blown away with them. Their dedication and interest is just profound.They’re so eager and easy to work with, it’s as if they were craving it.”

Some musicians are pros who just wanted a new outlet for performance while others are like Kirkpatrick – onetime hobbyists who saw Civic Winds as a way to get back into their music.

The band differs from an orchestra in that there are no strings – just woodwinds, brass and percussion.

Trumpeter Paul Boyer, who has gotten his fix in recent years playing with The Trumpet Geezers in Farmington, is happy to have bandmates closer to home.

“I’ve been waiting for this for years,” Boyer said.“If you’ve got drums or a guitar and amp, you can play a lot, but Durango’s been pretty sparse for this type of music. This is fantastic – we get to make music with the hometown folks in front of the hometown folks.”

Tonight’s program will include Gustav Holst’s First Suite in E flat; the march “National Emblem” by E.E. Bagley; “Shenandoah” by Frank Ticheli; and “Prelude Siciliano and Rondo” by Malcolm Arnold. The latter piece features a trumpet solo by one of the more accomplished Civic Winds, FLC music faculty member Marc Reed.

Walters said he has been impressed by the musicians’ talent. He gave the sheet music to the musicians in February, and each was responsible for learning his or her part. Walters said they obviously did their homework because after only four rehearsals, the last of which was Thursday, just a night before the concert, he said it doesn’t feel like he’s working with amateurs at all.

“I told my students I’m seeing another band on the side,” he quipped.

Walters and Katzin said theyboth be surprised if tonight’s concert represents a one-and-done scenario for the Civic Winds. Talk of a summer concert already happening.

Because there is rising interest in the band, Walters said he may soon have to hold auditions as a way to maintain and further improve the quality. But both Walters and Katzin also are aware of the community value of the band and don’t want to see it become anything resembling an exclusive club.

“My focus has been music education, and it doesn’t stop at the end of high school or college,” Katzin said.“I think we appreciate it more. We’ve gained some expertise, and we needed a place to enjoy it and now we’ve got that. I’m just beaming with joy.”

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