Residents of Westwood gathered at the Monday night for a musical performance from the Westwood Winds titled "Only in America: A Concert of Music That Unites Us".
Westwood Winds consists of 25 musicians and is directed by James Giurleo. Monday's event was scheduled to be outdoors, and although the sun was shining, rain continued to pour, so they were forced to move the show inside.
Giurleo has been a music educator for more than 40 years. When he created Westwood Winds, his vision was to encourage Westwood musicians to keep playing.
“The focus of my teaching has always been to increase people’s ability to create music,” said Giurleo. “Westwood Winds was created to provide them the opportunity to continue their interests in music making in a community setting, not bound by age, or status.”
His dream has become a reality, as the members of Westwood Winds come from all walks of life and a wide age range comprising of four recent college graduates, five working adults, three retirees, two current WHS students, and 10 college students.
Most of the members of the band are Westwood residents, and all members are connected to Westwood in some way.
“Everything is homegrown,” said Giurleo.
The music selected for the evening was particularly chosen to connect cultural influences to help give a sense of security, as well as to enrich the meaning of individual lives and the community as a whole.
Giurleo and his Westwood Winds accomplished this goal with notorious classics including theme songs arranged by John Higgins from the films Jaws, Back to the Future, E.T., and many more.
Other selections included "Military Escort" by Harold Bennet, and Mancini Magic, a medley of classic tunes from Henry Mancini including the ever-popular Pink Panther theme song.
“(Mancini) started playing the flute when he was eight,” said Giurleo, who treated the audience to fun facts in between songs.
Another tune they performed was "That’s A Plenty," written by Lew Pollack and arranged by J. Edmondson.
“('That’s A Plenty') conjures up images of the silent movies,” said Giurleo to the audience.
The audience was treated to other familiar songs from like the Hawaii Five-O theme by Mort Stevens, and a compilation of Disney songs, such as "Under the Sea," "Be Our Guest," "Arabian Nights," and more. This was followed by "And All That Jazz," by Fred Ebb and John Kander.
“(Kander) started as a substitute rehearsal pianist for West Side Story,” explained Giurleo. Ebb and Kander also wrote a number of songs for Liza Minelli.
The night ended with the Neil Diamond classic, "Sweet Caroline," which has become the anthem of the Boston Red Sox over the past few years.
“I found out that Neil Diamond wrote this in one hour,” said Giurleo. “It went platinum and sold a million records.”
Westwood Winds met for six rehearsals prior to this event, and their main focus was to represent a broad range of musical styles. They were more interested in the quality of their performances rather than quantity, an admirable goal to say the least.
During Giurleo’s time as the K-12 Director of Performing Arts from Westwood Public Schools, he was awarded the Lowell Mason Award for his efforts in music education in Massachusetts.
Giurleo also coordinated the Prodigy Program, an after school program for Westwood music students, which currently enrolls over 650 students and 28 music faculty.
Westwood Winds consists of:
- Flute: Kathleen Lally
- Clarinet: Allison Campion, Amoula Hamdan, Katelyn Raftery, Mark Rogers, and Laura Sanborn
- Alto Saxophone: Paul Baker, Diana Jud, and Michael Santisi
- Tenor Saxophone: Stephen Campion
- French Horn: Jimmy Looney
- Trumpet: Peter Anderson, Bruce Cook, PJ Cook, and Haley Lim
- Trombone: Steven Fanara, Jay Giurleo, Carmen Graves, and Allison McNulty
- Baritone Horn: Susan Kenney
- Tuba: Alex Teebagy
- String Bass: Brad Baldwin
- Electric Bass: Nathaniel Teebagy
- Percussion: Nicole Campion, Tim Close, and Raeef Istfan
This event was made possible by the Westwood Young Women’s Club, Heather Cote, who is the Director of Performing Arts, Ken Aries, Greg Baldwin, and the WHS custodial staff.