"The band sounds great!” -Bob Brookmeyer "Wow, what a project! ..They are beautiful arrangements!" -Maria Schneider
10/20/2016 8:24:25 PM - Following the successful Broadway musician’s strike of 2003, Local 802 initiated a campaign to celebrate conspicuously. Musical groups were to be seen in the middle of Times Square, on a concrete island called Duffy Square, playing for free, performing for the sheer joy of it. Mike Ishii -802 committee member- approached me to lead a brass ensemble for this series. I asked “What size group?” MI said, “We were thinking of maybe 8.” I replied, “I was thinking of 16 or 20.” “Oh, that would be great!” replied MI. “So bigger would be better?” queried I. “Yes!” replied MI. ………“Then how about a 45 piece wind ensemble?” Thus, the Gotham Wind Symphony was born, a mighty ensemble of metro-area pros who play on Broadway, in jazz clubs, and in the symphony orchestras, ballets and operas. Their first program, performed at the height of rush hour in the busiest part of NYC was: Brookmeyer- Celebration Jig; Holst- 1st Suite in Eb; Handel- Overture to the Royal Fireworks Music; Sauter-Finegan- Doodletown Fifers; Bach/Holst- Fugue a la Gigue; Grainger- Irish Tune from County Derry; Thad Jones- The Great One; and Sousa- Black Horse Troop. The audience instinctively formed a closed ring around us; many assisted with wind-blown pages of music. Some of this music brought back fond memories of high school or college band for the players. And so, despite the 50-degree temperature, swirling winds, and general commotion, the musicians seemed to enjoy themselves, and they issued their highest praise: “When’s the next gig?”
Three months after our first performance, two of the married musicians from that debut welcomed a baby daughter, Julia. She was born with a rare, dangerous condition; hemimegalencephaly. The GWS musicians readily agreed to record a benefit CD on Julia’s behalf. The resulting “Music For Children” is still available on our site below. The hardest part was keeping it a surprise to the parents, members of a very tight-knit musician’s community. The surprise occurred, and thus far the CD has raised $10,00 for Julia, who is doing remarkably well!
Following performances at New Jersey City University and LaGuardia High School (NYC), the GWS agreed to make our first meager earnings in recording their second CD, “American Gotham”. This project features all premier recordings of original works (2 commissioned for this recording) for large wind band written by composers who were/are profoundly influenced by their time in NYC. The composers/pieces are: Thad Jones- Northwest Suite, Mike Holober- Road Trip; James Chirillo- Prelude (to a Minor Insensitivity); and Scott Robinson- Eventuations (with the LaGuardia HS Jazz band under the direction of Kevin Blancq).
We felt lucky to have performed our tribute to one of my great musical inspirations: Bill Finegan (honoring his 90th birthday) in time for him to see and hear the results, as he passed away in early July of this year. That concert featured many of Bill’s arrangements and compositions, as well as music by one of his teachers: Darius Milhaud, and by two of Bill’s students; James Chirillo and Julie Cavadini. In that performance, the GWS ranged in size from 45 to 2 and was described by the band as “the concert of the year.” You can see video evidence of this concert at both of the websites below.

What’s next? We're very excited to share our recent activity with you: an NYC concert at Symphony Space followed by a studio recording. That music contains 4 world premier compositions including the first large wind band piece from John Hollenbeck, plus new pieces from Bill Finegan, Mike Holober and James Chirillo, and wonderful music by Bob Brookmeyer, Ned Rorem, Chen Yi, Jonathan Newman and John Philip Sousa! The concert and subsequent recording honor that late, great friend of ours: Bill Finegan. Click here to get that music!

Mike Christianson, Conductor
Gotham Wind Symphony EPK
Electronic Press Kit for Gotham Wind Symphony