WestwoodWinds celebrate ‘Milestones’

Photos by James Kinneen. A large crowd watches WestwoodWinds from the courtyard.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

On Monday night, August 5, WestwoodWinds presented “Milestones,” a celebration of the music they’ve played over the course of their ten years as a community band, to those in attendance in the Westwood High School cafeteria courtyard.

To celebrate the momentous occasion, the band opted to play one piece from each of its previous concert seasons, as well as to premiere “First Milestone,” an original piece by WestwoodWinds founder Jim Giurleo, composed specifically for this event.

The band began with “America,” from its 2010 concert. The night’s emcee, Elaine Giurleo, noted after that “that will wake you up if you were napping,” as many in the crowd were laying on blankets, eating ice cream sandwiches. Next came 2012’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and 2013’s “An American Tribute.” Before introducing “An American Tribute,” Giurleo noted how many American milestones the song held within - a nice reflection on the night’s theme. Next came “Summertime” from the 2015 concert, and “The Force Awakens” from both “Star Wars” and the 2016 series.

Following a brief intermission, it was time for the debut of Jim Giurleo’s “First Milestone.” Featuring a flute solo from Kara Swindon, the piece wowed both the crowd and Elaine Giurleo, who noted: “I watched you write it, and it was beautiful to hear.”

Next, it was Elaine’s turn to do some conducting. When the band played “Sweet Caroline” from the 2011 concert, she got up and made sure that the crowd knew when every appropriate callback and “bum, bum, bum” came. Then, right after “Pinball Wizard,” it was time for some audience participation.

For the playing of “Caravan,” shakers were handed out to some of the kids and their parents to help play along on a ten count. Everybody enjoyed doing that until the song was over, and Jim Giurleo brought the cardboard box out to collect the shakers.

Noting a sense of disappointment from audience members losing their percussion instruments, Giurleo joked: “Sorry. We’re a non-profit.”

But the disappointment would quickly give way to happiness, when “Happy” from the 2018 concert was played. With the music done, Jim Giurleo was given a plaque to commemorate his accomplishment of ten years leading WestwoodWinds. And while he wouldn’t give a speech, despite an increasing number of loud requests for one, he did note that the band works for almost 24 hours to get ready for this one hour of music, that the group has an incredible age range (from eight graders to “as young as me”), and that he deeply appreciated everyone coming out and creating what was perhaps the biggest crowd they’ve had for this type of event.

Members of the community will soon have another opportunity to see WestwoodWinds in action when they take the stage at Westwood Day on Saturday, September 21.

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