Wellington Winds Salute to the Holidays

“Wellington Winds Salute the Holidays”, an article by Martin deGroot in The Record on November 24, 2012 describing the upcoming concert and launch of the Winds’ DVD Appassionato: The Wellington Winds Story and the Winds’ Youtube Channel featuring many Canadian band compositions, interviews, and more.

Martin DeGroot, Arts and Culture, Sat Nov 24 2012, The Record

Wellington Winds salute the holidays

The Wellington Winds will be “Bringing in the Christmas Season” at Knox Presbyterian Church in Waterloo on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 at 3 p.m. The event is a long-standing tradition of presenting a Christmas concert in early December. This year, however, those familiar seasonal themes with be augmented with something unprecedented: the official unveiling of an innovative project that has been in the works for some time.

Appassionato: The Wellington Winds Story is a multi-platform portrait of the Wellington Winds musical family in all aspects: the music, the people and what goes on behind the scenes.

It all started a few years back, when the group found itself eager to return to the recording field. The Winds’ last recording, a studio-produced CD of works by local composers called An Artist’s Neighbourhood, had been released under music producer Earl McCluskie’s Chestnut Hall Music label in 2002.

Things have changed since then. The CD, like the cassette tape, the LP and the record album before it, is becoming outmoded. It was McCluskie who came up with the idea of making it a DVD project, using video as well as audio to tell the story.

The board was convinced. The next step was gathering the necessary resources: Doing this kind of work at a professional level can be very expensive. In time, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund came through with seed money.

Having McCluskie and Chestnut Hall Music on board to handle the audio recording was a major asset. The project took another fortunate turn when Costel Biluaca of Constantin Videos came forward to work as videographer at minimal cost (he’s the father of Winds clarinetist Becky Maresiuc). Once all this was in place, the strategy became shooting as much footage as possible, utilizing as many as seven cameras in some situations.

The launch on Dec. 2 is for the DVD, as originally conceived. A limited number will be available for sale for $15. But there is more — most notably, a Wellington Winds YouTube channel. The aim here is to connect with younger people, following the reasoning that if the CD is becoming passé, especially for people under 30, the DVD can’t be far behind.

YouTube also opens a door to the whole wide world. Consequently, showcasing the work of Canadian band music composers became an additional objective. There are 12 original Canadian works plus a number of significant arrangements on the DVD. When I spoke with former Winds music director Michael Purves-Smith, he drew particular attention to local and internationally renowned mezzo soprano Laura Pudwell performing a set of Berg’s early songs arranged by the Winds own Dave Arthur.

Along with some gorgeous music, all recorded live before an audience, there are interviews with composers (Howard Cable, John Herberman and John de Meij), a large proportion of the band, folks from the audience, plus all sorts of behind-the-scenes footage, including sectionals rehearsals (mostly in band members’ homes), setting up before a show, even a board meeting.

Besides conducting and performing as a soloist, Wellington Winds musical director Daniel Warren also serves as genial host in most of the interviews.

The material can be approached in various ways: It can be played in its entirety (about two hours), or one piece at a time. Streaming the content posted online is another option. Only a fraction of the footage that was produced made it to the final cut of the DVD; much more will be posted as the year unfolds.

One way or another, this is a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of the inner workings of one of the region’s most accomplished musical groups, along with generous helpings of the work they do so well.