Foothill Symphonic Winds Logo

The Foothill Symphonic Winds

Introduction

This active and respected community band was originally formed as the Foothill College Symphonic Wind Ensemble in the Fall Quarter of 1980. It was operated as an accredited class under the auspices of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District. In the summer of 2011, all Music Performance classes were cancelled at the college. The members of the Foothill Symphonic Winds (FSW), as it was then named, wanted the band to continue to operate in its traditional format, except as a non-profit organization. Articles of Incorporation were filed, a Board of Directors elected, and 501(c)(3) tax exempt status granted to the FSW by the IRS.

The ensemble performs classical and contemporary works written or transcribed for symphonic wind ensemble or concert band. The aim is to assist the musicians in continuing their musical growth, while also providing high-caliber musical entertainment for the community. Enrollment is open to all qualified musicians in the community. Concert performances and musical outreach activities are viewed as benefits of being able to perform quality wind literature in a high-caliber ensemble.

Location

The Foothill Symphonic Winds  is located in northern California at the southern end of the San Francisco Peninsula. We are fortunate to be able to hold our rehearsals in the music room of the Blach Intermediate School, 1120 Covington Road, Los Altos. Rehearsals start promptly at 7:30 PM on Wednesdays. We meet for three sessions (Fall, Winter, and Spring) from the end of September to the middle of June. Parking is free. Directions

FSW rehearsal

Membership

FSW in concertThe musicians of the Foothill Symphonic Winds span a wide range of ages (15 - 85), backgrounds, and occupations. They are brought together by a shared desire to perform music of the highest quality available for concert band and wind ensembles. The roster from our last performance shows the broad range of occupations of our members. The ensemble often has members who are enrolled as regular students pursuing high school or college degrees. A few members currently earn a living directly related to music (e.g., teacher, music sales). The other musicians are a part of, or retired from, the work force in the local area, which is the birthplace of Silicon Valley. The group is pleased that it can attract individuals from many occupations and backgrounds who play music at a high level of performance and who want to continue to do so as an avocation.


The FSW membership varies between 65 and 70 musicians, plus our conductor, Mr. David Bruce Adams. The first concert of the ensemble, held December 10, 1980, had 49 musicians performing compositions of such significant value that many of the pieces were repeated for the 35th Anniversary Concert. Four of our members have belonged for 34 years. It is estimated that more than 80% of the musicians live within 10 miles of our rehearsal site. A few members live in the East Bay or up the peninsula as far as San Francisco.

The Foothill Symphonic Winds does not hold to a strict instrumentation, largely because it is an educational and community experience. Anyone with the performing skill, commensurate with the difficulty of music performed, is invited to be a member. However, we do need to limit our total membership for musical and logistical considerations. However, we do need to limit our total membership for musical and logistical considerations. Sectional balance is achieved by each individual's respect for the intended dynamics and balance for each composition played. Limitations may be placed on the size of individual sections to help with musical balance. Prospective new members must have the approval of the Musical Director (contact). Auditions are not required normally, but individual and sectional auditions are at the desire of the Musical Director.

Our Director

David B. Adams, DirectorDavid Bruce Adams became the Director of the Foothill Symphonic Winds in September 1993, after performing for many years as lead trumpeter for the group. His professional conducting experience includes three years as the Assistant Conductor of the San Jose Municipal Band. Mr. Adams earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Boston University, where he studied trumpet with John Coffey and Roger Voisin of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He later earned his Master of Arts degree at San Jose State University while teaching music and directing bands in the Cupertino Union School District. For fourteen years he was Instrumental Music Director at Palo Alto High School, where his concert and jazz bands won numerous awards. In 1987, Mr Adams received a Fellowship for advanced music studies at Northwestern University. In 1998 he chose to teach music in the Palo Alto elementary schools so that he could spend more time with his wife and young son. He continues to perform professionally with many Bay Area ensembles and is an active adjudicator for jazz, orchestra and band festivals in Northern California. He has served as president of the Santa Clara County Band Directors' Association and as Area Representative for the California Music Educators Association.

Concerts

On average, the Foothill Symphonic Winds performs four concerts each year. There are the three formal concerts that occur at the end of the Fall, Winter, and Spring sessions in December, March, and June, respectively. In addition, there are often one or two special events that occur in the year. These events might include a joint concert with another host band, pop concerts, festivals, or mentoring events with younger school bands. There is more discussion of the latter activities in the section on Outreach efforts.

Our concerts are performed in the Theatre at the Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto. This 325-seat theater is slightly small for our performances, but it is located on level land with nearby, free parking. Concerts start at 3:30 PM on Sunday afternoons. A schedule of upcoming concerts is here. There is usually a nominal admission charge for the three main concerts of the year. The proceeds partially offset the costs of concert hall rental and the acquisition of new music. Ticket prices are presently $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. Keeping admission costs low is a way of making our musical performances more accessible to all segments of our community. In the San Francisco Bay Area, there are many arts organizations that compete for an audience that is very involved with jobs or free-time activities. Directions

Poster display Programs have always been distributed at our concerts. These were usually one, two, or four pages and included the works to be performed and the roster of musicians. In 1989, program notes were added providing information about each of the works performed along with short biographies of the composers. These notes have been an important adjunct to appreciating the music being performed. While not everyone in the audience reads the several pages of program notes at each concert, there are a large enough number that appreciate the material to justify their inclusion. There are several ensemble members who ask for early drafts, so that they can better understand the works being rehearsed. This website was established to share these notes with other bands. Program notes, listed by composer, are available on-line. Publicity posters are also available for review.  A listing of our past performances can be found here.

Over the years, the Foothill Symphonic Winds has shared its concerts with a large number of comparable ensembles. We have both served as host for concerts and been guests at others. These opportunities allow our members to experience other music for concert band and to hear how our sound compares to the other groups. It's also an opportunity for each other's audience to become aware of another musical organization in the community. For the Intermediate and High School Bands, it demonstrates that a musician can continue to have a place to perform music after he or she graduates from school.

Upcoming concerts

Clarinet Choir

Some members of the FSW's clarinet section have been meeting informally to play music written for clarinet choirs. This group, with varying membership, has performed on several end of session and neighborhood concerts.

Organizational Membership

The Foothill Symphonic Winds is an Organizational Member of the Association of Concert Bands (ACB). ACB members include bands, adult musicians, conductors, composers, and corporations who are dedicated and equipped to serve the needs of musicians that perform in and/or lead adult concert, community, and municipal bands. The ACB has compiled a list of concert bands. 

Other Local Community Bands

Chabot College Wind Ensemble & Symphony - Hayward, CA 94545
Cupertino Symphonic Band - Sunnyvale, CA 94087
De Anza College Symphonic Wind Ensemble - Cupertino, CA 95014
Deutscher Musikverein (SF German Band) - San Francisco, CA 94109
Hayward Municipal Band - Hayward, CA 94544
Los Altos Ye Olde Towne Band - Los Altos, CA 94022
Milpitas Community Concert Band - Fremont, CA 95035
Newark Symphonic Winds - Newark, CA 94560
Ohlone Community Band - Fremont, CA 94539
Ohlone Wind Orchestra - Fremont, CA 94539
Peninsula Symphonic Band - Palo Alto, CA 94301
Skyline College Concert Band - San Bruno, CA 94066
San Jose Metropolitan Band - San Jose, CA 95138
San Jose Wind Symphony - San Jose, CA 95138
West Bay Community Band - Millbrae, CA 94030
Woodside Village Band - Woodside, CA 94062