About the Ensemble
Central Winds history began in 1984.
Music educators Jeff Renshaw, Mark Ponzo, and Don Carducci envisioned an
ensemble made up of local musicians in the Central New York landscape. The ensemble would be an outlet for
local musicians who wanted more opportunities for performance. The group
was originally named the Syracuse Wind Symphony and included professional musicians
as well as university and public school educators. The Syracuse Wind
Symphony had its first concert in 1985.
In 1987 the group reorganized under the auspices of the Onondaga County Music Educators Association and created our existing mission statement: To provide the music educator - wind/percussion player with professional level performance opportunities that will result in growth, camaraderie, satisfaction, and enjoyment. Existing primarily for its membership, the Ensemble shall engage the best conductors available and perform a variety of high quality literature including chamber works. The Ensemble will pursue that planning of educational activities that will benefit student musicians, other music educators, and the community at large.
In 2000 the group was revitalized and refreshed with the addition of an advisory board and a name change to the Central New York Music Educators Wind Ensemble and later to Central Winds: A Music Educators’ Wind Ensemble to better reflect it’s membership. The group is now run by an eight member advisory board, which consists of the General Manager, Personnel Director, Treasurer, Webmaster, Publicity Chairperson, and three Members at Large. The board is responsible for hiring quality conductors, setting the rehearsal and performance schedule, seeking performing opportunities, and any other organizational aspects of the group. As the group has evolved we have gone from having only guest conductors, to having anchor conductors: Andrew Perry (West Genesee High School) and James Tapia (Syracuse University), with some additional guest conductors.
Membership in the group includes music educators, as well as a few area musicians who are of high educational and performance caliber. All music teachers in Onondaga and the surrounding counties are welcome to be a part of the Central Winds. Because we want to keep the instrumentation as close to a Wind Ensemble size as possible, the Advisory Board developed a hierarchy of criteria for membership in the group that would be in keeping with our mission statement. In the event that there are more responses in a given section than we could possibly accept, the following hierarchy of criteria would be used to select membership:
1. Person should be a music educator
2. Person should be a music professional
3. Person should be a college/university student in music education
4. Person should be a music advocate
5. Person should be available for all concerts/rehearsals
The Personnel Manager, in consultation with the Advisory Board, makes final personnel decisions.
The Central Winds has organized workshops and performed at Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY and the Crane School of Music, Potsdam, NY, and has performed at the New York State Band Directors Association Symposium (1998 & 2009), and the New York State School Music Association Winter Conference (2003). To date the ensembles pinnacle accomplishment was realized in December of 2009 as it was chosen to perform at the 63rd Mid-West Clinic in Chicago, Ill. Since 2005, the ensemble has become a regular part of the Oneida Area Arts Council Concert Series (Oneida, NY). Each season the group performs at an area high school in a combined concert with a side-by-side experience. In past seasons we have also held an honors concert in which each teacher in the group could nominate students to be selected to perform with us. Guest conductors include Charles Peltz (New England Conservatory), John Laverty (Syracuse University), Timothy Topolewski (Crane School of Music), Scott Levine (Crane School of Music), and Stephen Peterson (Ithaca College). Special guest conductors/artists have included Donald Hunsberger (2002), David Waybright (2003), the Boston Brass (2003 & 2006) and J. D. Shaw (2009).