San Juan College Summer Band plans free concert at Brookside Park
Woodwinds-percussion ensemble small in number but long on experience
FARMINGTON — When the San Juan College Summer Band performs this weekend, it will do so away from the familiar surroundings of the college campus, where the school's concerts traditionally take place.
But that's not what will make the event significant. When the group takes the stage Friday in Farmington's Brookside Park, it will mark the first time since Valentine's Day 2020 that a San Juan College music ensemble has faced a live, in-person audience.
"This will actually be kind of a special deal," said music professor Teun Fetz, who will lead the 20-piece woodwinds-and-percussion group, noting the nearly 18 months that have passed since the COVID-19 pandemic began, sidelining nearly all large public gatherings on the San Juan College campus.
The ensemble that will perform this weekend is made up of music professionals, students and community members, and the 20 musicians taking part represent about half the normal contingent that plays in the school's symphonic band or orchestra during the school year. But Fetz said he has a high regard for this group.
"This group is pretty good. All the players are really strong," he said, describing them as the nucleus of the other ensembles that are a part of San Juan College's music program. "They keep everything going. They're wanting to play semester after semester. I'm really happy with the people we have."
Fetz said he will rely on the group's veteran nature and experience during this weekend's concert, which will take place outdoors — perhaps under less-than-ideal circumstances, considering the active nature of this summer's monsoon.
"I'm hoping the weather will cooperate," he said. "That makes it a little dicey. When you have woodwind instruments and sheet music, it could be an adventure."
The program will feature performances of "Chant and Jubilo" by Francis McBeth, "Jet Stream" by Gary Ziek, "March from First Suite in Eb" by Gustav Holst, "Meterodance" by Randall Standridge, "Moonlit Dreams" by Joshua Hinkel, "The Mouse King" by Bruce Broughton, "Moving at the Speed of Sound" by Mark Lortz, "Three Saxophone Trios" by Anton Reicha and "Wellerman" by Paul Murtha.
The full ensemble will perform eight of those tunes, while a saxophone trio consisting of dual-credit students from Aztec will round out the concert. Fetz is looking forward to letting the students in the latter group get their moment in the spotlight.
"These are really special kids who have worked hard," he said. "They've been in the band for three years, and I wanted to reward them for their time commitment. It made sense to give them their chance to shine a little bit. And it gives (the other musicians in the group) a break."
Fetz said the material he chose for the program is a mix of classic concert band repertoire and music written by lesser-known, 21st century composers.
"It's challenging, but it's also approachable and accessible," he said. "A few of them will be familiar tunes that I think people will recognize if they if they know concert band music."
The San Juan College Summer Band performs at 7 p.m. Friday, July 30, under the pavilion at Brookside Park, 1801 Brookside Drive in Farmington. Admission is free, but audience members are asked to bring their own blankets, chairs and refreshments.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.