Tuning up for their weekly rehearsal, members of the San Ramon Symphonic Band are gathering at the Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center to share their amazing talent and passion for music as they prepare for two upcoming concerts.

The Symphonic Band will perform March 8 in a joint concert with the De La Salle High School Band beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $6 for adults, and those younger than 12 or with student ID get in free.

The Symphonic Band was also invited to perform at the Association of Concert Bands' annual National Convention, which is hosted by the East Bay Symphonic Band and will be held April 3-7 at the San Ramon Marriott Hotel. The band will perform April 4. The San Ramon band is one of seven selected to perform. Others include the San Jose Metropolitan Band, Lake Oswego Millennium Concert Band from Oregon, Solano Winds Community Concert Band from Fairfield, Sacramento Symphonic Winds and San Jose Wind Symphony. Both concerts will feature guest soloist Jon Brummel, a trombonist who teaches in the San Ramon Valley and at Fresno State University.


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The rich collection of local musicians in the San Ramon Symphonic Band ranging in age from teens to senior citizens has been performing and entertaining Tri-Valley audiences since 1987 when the City of San Ramon advertised for musicians to play in a community band at the Fourth of July festivities in Central Park. San Ramon resident Chris Stephan, one of the founding members of the Symphonic Band, answered that ad along with a dozen other musicians and has been playing his French horn in the band ever since.

Today, the 55-member volunteer band performs four concerts each year and is the only community band in the area that is supported by its city through San Ramon's Park and Community Services Department and the San Ramon Arts Foundation. The band performs under the direction of conductor Larry Colon, who is also the director of bands at De La Salle High School in Concord. The San Ramon Symphonic Band is an important part of San Ramon, he said, because "Music is one of the things you can do the rest of your life."

The band members have "a love for their instruments and love for music. They are always learning and wanting to experience something new," Colon said. The band "provides an opportunity and a place where people can continue to grow and show their civic pride."

The San Ramon band is unique, adds Colon, in that the city of San Ramon provides rehearsal and performance facilities for the four concerts each year in addition to the materials such as music stands, an 800-title music library, and advertising for the events. Colon joined the San Ramon Symphonic as conductor four years ago after Chuck Taber stepped down after 20 years conducting the band and Norm Dea moved on to serve as president of the California Music Educators Association. Colon was one of four guest conductors who returned that next year and was invited to stay.

Colon said joining the band was the "next step" in his career and an opportunity to work with adults. While he said he loves to work with high school kids, he also wanted a different experience and liked the way the organization is run. He is responsible for choosing the music, rehearsing the group and planning the program, but other members handle the program, scheduling and other details. San Ramon Symphonic is running well after 25 years due to the leadership and the 55 people who want to come and play their instruments, said Stephan.

"The organization is more important than who is in front of it," said Colon. "The spirit of the organization is going to be there a long time" despite who the conductor is. "There is a solid core in the group."

Performing for an audience of more than 10,000 people at the annual Fourth of July concert has been the band's claim to fame as well as its selection to participate in the National Convention of the Association of Concert Bands in April. The band was one of seven picked from the 22 bands that auditioned for the honor. For tickets and a schedule of upcoming concerts, visit www.sanramonperformingarts.com.

Contact Monica Lander at landerfamily@comcast.net.