SJC Summer Band headed outside for concert this weekend

Conductor Teun Fetz looks forward to taking group outside traditional concert hall setting

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • The San Juan College Summer Band continues the Summer Terrace Concert Series at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 23 at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.
  • Admission is free.
  • The program includes pieces by John Philip Sousa, Clare Grundman and others.

FARMINGTON − While classical music concerts normally are something that take place indoors, San Juan College music professor Teun Fetz says there are certainly some things to enjoy about an outdoor performance.

"I like the informality of it, and I like people being able to come for free," he said of the conditions that will prevail when he leads the San Juan College Summer Band in a concert this weekend outside the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

"But the weather and the comfort level and the winds can create havoc on your music. You never know how it's going to affect you. The heat can affect the intonation (of the instruments) and even your page turns (of sheet music). But I do find it appealing to be able to go outside the formal concert setting and reach people who may not be willing to go to a concert hall."

That's why Fetz schedules an outdoor performance for his students every summer. That informal setting reflects the more-relaxed tone of the season, and it provides a nice change of pace from the usual, highly structured concert environment that some folks find intimidating.

"I feel like it's worth it to be able to connect with the community," he said.

Teun Fetz will lead the San Juan College Summer Band when it performs Saturday, July 23 outside the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park.

The 36-member band, which includes a percussion ensemble, is a larger-than-normal group for this time of year, Fetz said, explaining that participation usually dwindles to 25 or 30 players in the summer. That healthy turnout should give this performance a little more oomph, he said, as he has a challenging program of marches and upbeat classical music planned.

The band will perform three pieces by American composer Clare Grundman, "An Irish Rhapsody," "Chorale from Concord" and "Kentucky 1800." Fetz described Grundman as one of his favorite lesser-known composers.

"I played a lot of his stuff when I was in school, and I always thought he should be more recognized for his presentation," he said. "He was good at presenting melodies that are fun to the listener but melodies that are also beneficial to performers to learn to play."

The program also includes "El Capitan March" by John Philip Sousa, "Go! Galop March" by Will Huff and "El Zorro Rojo" by Randall Standridge, three stirring pieces that nevertheless manage to cover different styles. Fetz said "El Capitan March" is one of Sousa's better-know works and shares many of the characteristics of his celebrated patriotic compositions that are a staple of Fourth of July concerts. He described "Go! Galop March" as a fast-paced circus march, noting the work actually was created by Henry Fillmore, who adopted the pseudonym Will Huff when he wrote the piece, as he did for much of his work. "El Zorro Rojo," as its name indicates, has a strong Latin flavor.

"It might remind people of mariachi a little bit," Fetz said.

The program also includes "Eye of the Falcon" by Ed Huckeby and "God of Our Fathers" by Claude T. Smith. Fetz said Huckeby was a composer who was known for working in a traditional, old school style, but "Eye of the Falcon" is one of his more exciting works. Smith's "God of Our Fathers" features a number of changes in tone, putting a focus on the brass players but offering each section of the orchestra its moment in the spotlight. Fetz said the piece is a substantial one and requires advanced technique from its performers, but it nevertheless remains quite accessible to listeners of all levels.

Fetz acknowledged that the music he has chosen for the program has considerable entertainment value, but he said it also helps his orchestra establish a bond with listeners.

"That's one of the things your soul craves," he said, explaining how much he missed that connection during the COVID-19 pandemic when public performances became impossible. "The ability to be connecting with people and collaborating with other musicians and communicating nonverbally there are a lot of emotions and connections wrapped up in that. … It gives you that sense of compassion and completeness I feel like people need in their lives."

The San Juan College Summer Band continues the Summer Terrace Concert Series at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 23 outside the museum, 3041 E. Main St. Admission is free. Call 505-599-1174.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription: