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S.J. band headed to

The is one of two showcase bands performing Wednesday at the hall as part of the New York Wind Band Festival. Local residents can hear the ensemble’s Carnegie Hall program during a send-off concert Saturday at San Joaquin Delta College’s Atherton Auditorium.

It will be the Delta Winds’ only local performance and include the premiere of “Fanfare” by Stockton composer Max Simoncic. The band was assembled expressly for the New York trip.

Playing Carnegie Hall “will be a life-changing experience, something you never forget,” said Bob Gross, 64, Delta Winds French horn player and Lodi Community Band conductor. “It’s the chance of a lifetime.”

It also can be intimidating.

“I’ve had a few sleepless nights,” said Delta College band director Art Holton III, 56, who organized and conducts the Delta Winds. “We’ve got to be really good.”

Holton said he was invited by festival organizers to bring a band to the event. He then discussed forming the Delta Winds with the Stockton Concert Band, which he also conducts, as well as the Lodi Community Band.

Members of the two groups include college students and local high school music teachers, who recruited some of their pupils. High school students were required to audition to join the band.

“Delta’s a community college,” Holton said. “Delta should be here to do community-wide activities, not just Delta activities. This is a golden opportunity. Why not open it up to lots of folks?”

Festival coordinator Dana Luikart said the Delta Winds can show festival audiences how teen and adult musicians can perform together. High school bands from Tennessee, Virginia, Florida and New York also will attend the festival, he said.

“The best part of (being a Delta Winds member) is performing with young people,” said clarinet player Ray Lippert, 72, of Acampo. “It takes me back to when I was young.”

It’s not the first time a Stockton-area group has performed at Carnegie Hall. Holton said he took the venue’s stage with the Stockton Chorale about two decades ago.

Delta Winds member Amelia Towle, 19, of Stockton played Carnegie Hall last year with the Central Valley Youth Symphony. A bass clarinet player, Towle came back with a souvenir T-shirt that reads “Ask me about my debut at Carnegie Hall.”

“It was really cool,” she said. “The sound is incredible.”

Contact reporter Ian Hill at (209) 943-8571 or ihill@recordnet.com.

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