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Symphony begins 51st season next Saturday

Director is responsible for funky Stanford band

Livermore-Amador Symphony (LAS) opens its 51st season with "Gems from the Past and Present" next Saturday at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore. This performance kicks off a yearlong festival honoring Dr. Arthur Barnes' 50th season as music director.

The first concert will include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2, Benjamin Lees' Concerto for Woodwind and Orchestra, Concerto for Trumpet written by Barnes, and Gershwin's "An American in Paris."

Benjamin Lees' Concerto for Woodwind and Orchestra will feature Avanti Winds, which was formed in 2006. This quintet, whose members hold day jobs as engineers and teachers, is comprised of Ellen Crawford, flute; Audrey Gore, oboe; Jeffrey Wolfeld, clarinet; Liane Sharp-Fuccio, horn; and Jennifer Barnes Wolfeld, who is Dr. Barnes' daughter, on bassoon.

Arthur Barnes pursued his doctorate in orchestral conducting at Stanford University. He arrived in 1963, the year that the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band went on strike to protest the dismissal of the band director during a reorganization of the music department. Stanford offered Barnes the director position and he went on to win the hearts of the students by arranging popular songs into two-minute pieces for the band to perform, and by allowing band members a great deal of autonomy during performances. These changes transformed the Stanford band from a traditional marching unit into the lively student-led ensemble that remains to this day.

While at Stanford, Barnes, who was on the faculty for 35 years, charted more than 300 selections of popular music into two-minute pieces for the band. Last month, he was honored by the Band and Band Alumni Board for "his incomparable contributions to all the great things the Band is and does."

Barnes' Concerto for Trumpet was written in 1991 in celebration of Stanford University's centennial. Joyce Johnson Hamilton, who will perform the trumpet concerto, conducted the Diablo Symphony Orchestra from 1980 until 2011, in addition to others.

The Dec. 7 concert begins at 8 p.m. with a prelude talk from 7-7:30 p.m. Ticket information is available at www.bankheadtheater.org or by calling 373-6800.

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