Music Teacher Trying to form a 40-person or more symphonic group

Fremont Argus, January 2005
Linh Tat, Staff Writer

NEWARK — For more than a decade, Manuel Garcia has found opportunities to perform in a band. But as he prepares to graduate from San Jose State University — and bid farewell to the school’s marching band — Garcia must look for a new venue to showcase his artistic talents.

He is hoping that Newark soon will have a community band, under the leadership of Kevin Hanson, one of three band directors teaching in the school district.

“There are a lot of musicians in Newark,” said Garcia, 23, a former Newark resident who moved to Fremont about 15 years ago. “If (the city) had a band of its own, I think a lot of people would be interested in it and actually do it.”

That’s what Hanson is counting on, too, as he makes plans to form the Newark Area Symphonic Winds. About 10 people have expressed interest in playing, but Hanson needs at least 30 more for a full-sized symphonic band — different from an orchestra because it would not include stringed instruments.

Details are being worked out, but if all goes according to Hanson’s plans, the band will rehearse each Monday, from 7 to 9 or 10 p.m., at Newark Memorial High School.

Individuals who have not played in years are welcome, but they must make a habit of practicing again, said Hanson, who has offered to assist those who no longer own an instrument to find one.

“We want to have a real viable group … from professional musicians to college students, as long as they’re willing to play and be a working part of the group,” he said.

From classical to Broadway and from jazz to contemporary, Hanson envisions the band performing a variety of music. Eventually, the band director hopes to arrange a formal concert and have formal outfits for the players.

But for now, his main goal simply is to get a band together within a month — in time for group members to begin rehearsing for a May or June concert.

Hanson, who teaches band at Graham, Lincoln, Schilling and Snow elementary schools, spent nine years performing with Army bands, including serving as a conductor and band arranger in Japan.

Before joining the military, Hanson earned degrees in vocal and instrumental music education at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and directed band programs in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. He also has worked with various church and community musical groups.

“You can do a lot with community people who are not professionals. It’s all about people who like to play music,” he said.

For Garcia, performing in a community band is a good option for those who view music as a hobby.

“It’s a great way to meet people, especially in your area,” the tuba player said. “It’s a really friendly atmosphere. It’s not really a stress environment. Everyone’s there for fun, not to earn money or to compete with each other.”

If interested in joining a community band, contact Kevin Hanson at khanson@nusd.k12.ca.us or at (510) 566-5029.

Staff writer Linh Tat covers Newark for The Argus. She can be reached at (510) 353-7004 or ltat@angnewspapers.com