Dr. Yorgos Kouiritas directs the “Winter Winds” ensemble. (Rachel Schmid)
The Saddleback department of music held the “Winter Winds” ensemble Thursday night in McKinney Theatre. The audience was not only impressed with the performances of the individuals in the ensemble, but equally so with the conducting talents of Dr. Yorgos Kouritas.
Kurt Brillhart was pleased with the advancements the ensemble has made with the help of Kouritas.
“[Kouritas] is taking on more complex pieces than the last conductor did. The quality of the performance has jumped up quite a bit,” Brillhart stated.
This is the second semester Kouritas has been with Saddleback College as director of instrumental studies.
Flute player, Candice Steimer, 34, was satisfied with the way everyone played Thursday night.
“It has definitely been an improvement from last semester,” Steimer stated. “It takes a while for everyone to get used to a new conductor.”
“Winter Winds” included 40 members of the wind ensemble. The wind ensemble is a class, but it also includes talented members of the community.
Kouritas shared with the audience short biographies of each composer in hopes that the audience would gain a greater appreciation for the origins of the music being performed Thursday.
He also expressed the importance music held during the times the pieces were composed.
“Composers were composing these pieces to be danced to,” Kouritas explained. “As you know, back then there were no bars or shopping malls for people to hang out, so people needed some relaxing time. Of course in England, people couldn’t go to the beach like they do here. So dances were very important.”
Saxophone players Kyle Fukushima, 21, and Danny Zuill, 23, agreed that the ensemble had a solid performance Thursday, but noticed some mishaps that needed improvement.
“It was one of our better ones,” Zuill stated. “Not our best performance ever, but it was pretty solid. It’s one of those things that when you’re in the ensemble you notice errors. If you were in the audience, then you probably didn’t notice and it sounded fantastic. As musicians we tend to nitpick ourselves.”
The audience recognized the achievements and hard work the ensemble has made this past semester.
Theresa Bartoli came to “Winter Winds” to support her daughter who plays the French horn.
“It was really good,” Bartoli stated. “It was even better than the last one.”
Many of the musicians who played in the ensemble are at Saddleback almost everyday to also practice for the annual “Feast of Lights” concert being held on campus Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 2.
Kouritas recognized the dedication of the musicians to learn the music for both “Winter Winds” and “Feast of Lights.”
“Some of them are actually playing in the ‘Feast of Lights,’ so they are here every single night. They are really heroes. It’s unbelievable how much they play,” Kouritas stated.
The “Feast of Lights” will be held in the McKinney theater and begins Saturday, Dec. 1 and concludes the following day, Sunday, Dec. 2. On each day, the performances begin at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.