Concert at performing arts building showcases Los Angeles talent

Sienna Jackson / Roundup


The Los Angeles Pierce Symphonic Winds performed at the Pierce College Performing Arts building Sunday at 1:00 p.m., with an encore performance at 4.


The annual performance, “Stars of the LA Winds,” featured several solo performances by members of the 100-piece ensemble, set to the music of composers like Michael Kibbe (“Vulcan’s Hammer”) and Scott McAllister (“Freebirds”).


“This is a great ensemble to work with,” said Winds director and conductor Stephen Piazza.


Piazza has worked as a conductor since the early 1970’s, becoming a member of the Pierce music department in 1978.


From what was originally the school’s marching band that played during sporting events, Piazza reshaped the wind band program into an international orchestra. The Winds’ next European tour will visit France and Luxembourg.


“This show is our way of showcasing talented Los Angeles composers and performers, and making their work open to the community,” said Piazza.


The show opened with a guest performance by The Collective, a group of professional musicians from the ensembles including the LA Opera and Philharmonic, led by conductor Anthony Parnther.


It was their inaugural performance according to Parnther as he spoke to the auditorium of nearly 150 students, families and seniors from around the community.


“It’s a bunch of colleagues who love to get together and make music,” Parnther said during rehearsal earlier that day. “You don’t see that so often these days, musicians making music for music’s sake.”


Piazza briefly discarded his dinner jacket for a floral T-shirt after the intermission, and played a quick-paced clarinet duet with fellow clarinetist Helen Goode based on the song “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.


The song, “Freebirds” by Scott McAllister, was true to the source of inspiration; with red backlighting and rock n’ roll spirit, and clarinets in place of Johnny Van Zant.


The show closed with a medley of music composed by Edward Gregson for the National Shakespeare Company, interspersed with snatches of William Shakespeare’s plays narrated by Robert Joles.


“I love [and] live theater,” said Encore student and volunteer Helen Etting.


Etting, a Van Nuys resident, volunteers at West Valley College and Pierce in the theater departments, handing out programs and faithfully watching every show.


“I look forward to it every time,” Etting said as she clasped her hands together. “I love the theater. We’re so lucky to have such beautiful music right here in the valley.”




  • LA Winds’ next domestic performance will be on March 4, 2011 (Friday), at 6:30 p.m. (One concert only – open seating) Join us for a free evening concert showcasing the talents of our local high school students culminating in a performance by the LA Winds ensemble.
  • General admission tickets ran for $25 with a $10 discount for students and seniors.



The Los Angeles Pierce Symphonic Winds webpage at