The First Sixteen Years
West County Winds (WCW) was started in 1985 by Terry Clark, El Cerrito High School’s former band director, and nine of his graduates (some of who are still regular members). Clark conducted WCW for 16 years, and in that time the band more than tripled in size and became known for its excellent performances of challenging music.
When Clark moved to Sonora, tuba player Ray Iniguez took the podium for a season, followed by Brian Barfield and Bob Calonico in 2002. During this period of rapid transition and uncertainty, the band lost many members and was almost forced to dissolve.
Spiros Xydas was passed the baton in 2003 and conducted twelve grateful musicians at his first rehearsal. During his two years on the podium WCW grew to include over 30 members. When Xydas announced his intent to leave at the end of the 2005 season, WCW began its first ever member-led conductor search.
Rice Majors was found. Majors brought enthusiasm, humor and a strong commitment to continued growth as he recruited new musicians and helped WCW build strong relationships with the community and local bands.
Majors represented several firsts for WCW: he was the first conductor chosen by the band instead of by a predecessor; music education was not his profession; he was a conductor with previous experience conducting a community band. It was fitting, then, that Rice held the baton as the band embarked on another first: self-governance.
WCW enjoyed four year of steady growth in size and in musical ambition. In 2009, motivated in part by the shaky economic conditions throughout the state, both public and private, the WCW Leadership Committee began serious discussions about creating a non-profit organization to firmly establish the band’s existence as a legal entity.
A Challenge Met
In Spring 2010, Majors left to pursue a compelling opportunity at the University of Colorado, and the band’s self-governance was put to the test. Assistant Conductor Sue Crum stepped in as the interim conductor to help the band prepare for several upcoming concerts, and with the help of Contra Costa College a search committee was chosen to find a Musical Director for the band.
After evaluating many applications, undergoing rounds of interviews and candidates conducting at several trial rehearsals, band members voted for their future conductor: Jessica Bejarano. Bejarano led the group until the close of West County Winds’ 2013-2014 season.
A New Chapter
After a year-long search, Geoffrey Gallegos was selected as the new West County “Winds conductor. He completed two seasons with the band, and we are now excited to embark on our third concert season, 2017-18, under Geoffrey’s baton.
Read more about West County Winds’ amazing conductors, past and present, here.