When Barry Kopetz came to Salt Lake City from Minnesota in 1991, he was amazed to find only two or three community music groups in the city. He then made it his goal to give nonprofessional musicians another organization where they could keep alive their love for playing music.
And so the Salt Lake Symphonic Winds was born.Organized in the fall of 1993 as a nonprofit ensemble, Salt Lake Symphonic Winds is now in its fifth season. "We're a mixed group of individuals," founder and director Kopetz admits. "The band is made up of businessmen and women, doctors, housewives - just people who love to play music."
Audiences will be able to see and hear the group tonight at 8 p.m. in the Cathedral of the Madeleine, 331 E. South Temple. The concert is free of charge and will feature music ranging from Giovanni Gabrieli to the late 20th century.
In talking about the concert program, Kopetz notes that they'll be performing in a cathedral that has a different resonance than their usual concert venues. "So we've chosen pieces that are more appropriate for where we'll be playing.
"This gives the musicians a chance to play some new pieces plus some old ones they know."
There is a definite advantage since rehearsal time for the group is limited. They only practice together for two hours each Thursday evening, so members of the group need to work on pieces in their spare time.
"One of the great things about this group," Kopetz said, "is that if you yell at them, they yell back. You have to tell them that (this piece) isn't ready yet - it needs to be ready for next week.
"We put in four to six weeks of rehearsals for one concert, which translates to seven to nine concerts a year. We've also done some summer concerts."
Rehearsals take place at Highland High School, and the band gives concerts wherever they can find a venue. "We've performed in high schools, junior highs, parks, Assembly Hall. We've even played some places that people don't even know exist. We do this because we all have the same dream - to play music."
Since the Salt Lake Symphonic Winds is a nonprofit organization, none of the members, including Kopetz, gets paid for his or her effort. They must all find time in their busy schedules to rehearse and perform.
Kopetz, who teaches at the University of Utah and is the school's director of bands, in addition to being a composer, says that he can't help but smile when he thinks of the group. "They're there not because they get a paycheck but because they want to stay active as musicians.
"And the Salt Lake Symphonic Winds gives them that opportunity. Some of my best friends here in this town are in this band."