By Amanda Coscarelli, Nov. 16, 2021

On Nov. 3, the Cal Poly Pomona Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Winds returned to the stage to play for a live audience for the first time since the campus-wide shutdown. The concert, which took place on the grass outside of the Centerpointe Dining Commons, celebrated the return of live music after more than a year of being unable to perform in a group.

Both the Wind Ensemble, which played at 2 p.m., and the Symphonic Winds, which played at 4 p.m., featured saxophones, trumpets, clarinets and other wind instruments for a live audience of students and guests.

Director of the bands and an associate professor in music, Rickey Badua, who took the role of conductor for most of the concert, said, “We’re celebrating the return of live music and the return of being able to work together as a group.”

The event was split into two parts: a 2:30 p.m. show and another show at 4:30 p.m. Student musicians played a range of compositions, from classical to familiar cinematic scores.

Badua took the conductor’s stand for most of the show, but two student conductors showcased their skills during the second half. Adam Chang, a music student, took the stand first. He explained that he has played saxophone with the CPP band for five years and hopes to continue conducting outside of school.

The performance was intimate, but the musicians played with passion. In the front, the conductors remained focused and directed the rest of the musicians intently. Still, the band kept the concert low-key and Badua joked with the audience in between numbers.

Badua explained that live music is an important element in bringing people together. “Live music is important because it feels different; you listen differently; it really is a social activity. Recorded music is generally more personal. Live music is a gathering of the peeps,” said Badua.

This concert in particular united students who might not have had a chance to connect outside of class.

Bryan Cruz, a music student who plays the clarinet, explained his enthusiasm for this year’s concert, stating that playing as a group is critical for musicians.

Students who attended the event were glad to gather outside with friends for one of the first live performances since the pandemic, especially after the cancellation of Bronco Fusion earlier this year.

Will Cosso, a mechanical engineering student, attended the event to watch his friend perform in the Wind Ensemble. “I personally didn’t meet anyone new, but it was good to see my friends and have an event outside,” said Cosso.

Besides ambient music, guests were also welcomed with free sandwiches from Centerpointe Dining Commons.

At both shows, the crowd filled more than half of the seats with students enjoying music from the grass. The Cal Poly Pomona bands hope to have more people enjoying their music going forward.

The orchestra is composed of a variety of students, some of whom are in majors that are unrelated to music. To learn more about the band or attending events students can visit the band’s website.

Featured image courtesy of Amanda Coscarelli. 

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