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February 28, 2012 > Local symphony offers Free Spring Concert

Local symphony offers Free Spring Concert

By Julie Grabowski

Shake off the winter doldrums and enjoy an evening of inspiring and uplifting music with the Newark Symphonic Winds Free Spring Concert. Under the direction of Richard Wong, the Saturday, March 3 performance will treat the community to the thrill of "Opening Night on Broadway," "Maynard Madness" from trumpet great Maynard Ferguson, the music of John Williams, and a variety of works from other great composers. Whether classical pieces, jazz, Broadway, marches, or "James Bond type music," the Newark Symphonic Winds delivers a great mix of styles that will appeal to a broad audience.

The Newark Symphonic Winds (NSW) is a nonprofit 40-member wind ensemble made up of professional, semi-professional, and amateur community musicians. Established as a community oriented program, it offers the experience of live symphonic music to everyone, free of charge and close to home. Many people were interested in getting the symphony up and running, and due to a group effort with the leadership of then-Instrumental Music Director at Newark Memorial High School, Kevin Hanson, NSW was introduced in 2005. Hanson directed the symphony until 2007 when the baton was passed to current director Richard Wong. Wong teaches at American High School and has created several music programs and workshops for students, including a Symphonic Band and Concert Band.

NSW always includes students as they work with local schools and throughout the community to encourage and support music and arts programs.

The symphony offers five concerts per year, starting with an outdoor performance at Newark Days in September, followed by two winter concerts - a benefit for LOV and Toys for Tots, and their main holiday concert - then a spring and summer program; all performances are free and open to the public. The symphony's holiday concert in December drew about 200 people, the largest audience in seven years, according to NSW President Jim Carter.

When asked what the symphony contributes to the community, the answer is quite simple. "We're the only large symphony in the area that provides free concerts," says Carter. "It allows people in our communities that don't have the wherewithal to go to places like Davies Hall to hear live symphonic music."

NSW also has smaller musical divisions in the form of the Woodwind Quintet, Montecito Brass Quintet, and the Newark Saxophone Quartet. These groups perform at various functions and schools; a selected ensemble is featured at the beginning of the second half of each NSW concert.

The Newark Saxophone Quartet has been playing together about five years and will open the second half of Saturday's concert. The quartet is made up of Maurice LaFleur on baritone sax, Steve Leitner on tenor sax, Andy Ehling on alto sax, and Jim Carter on soprano sax. The group will be sharing their renditions of "Everybody Needs Somebody" from The Blues Brothers, "Chicago," and "Blue Rondo A La Turk" by Dave Brubeck.

While the symphony serves to provide great music to the community, it also provides a place for local musicians to stay in tune. Carter says many people played an instrument in high school and college, but there aren't many opportunities to continue once those times have passed. He adds that those who find NSW enjoy it tremendously and have a great time.

"We really encourage people to come and join us," says Carter. NSW start rehearsals in late August and continue through their last concert in May or June. Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Newark Memorial High School. "You can't imagine a nicer group of people," says Carter. "It's quite remarkable."

Make sure to experience the bevy of local talent that is the Newark Symphonic Winds and join them for their Spring Concert. NSW's next performance will be the Summer Concert on Saturday, May 19 featuring the Woodwind Quintet.

Those wishing to support the nonprofit, all volunteer organization can stop by the donation box at the concerts, or contact NSW via their website to learn how to help.

For more information about the Newark Symphonic Winds, their performances, or joining the group, call (510) 552-7186 or visit

Newark Symphonic Winds Free Spring Concert
Saturday, March 3
7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Newark Memorial High School Theatre
39375 Cedar Blvd., Newark
(510) 552-7186

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