The Desert Winds Returns for “Places” This Season

Fans of instrumental music can take a voyage around the world this year, starting with The Desert Winds’ season premiere on October 8.

Las Vegas’ premier professional wind ensemble, The Desert Winds, celebrates its ninth season this year with a program titled “Places.” Focusing on locations from the domestic to the depths of space, each concert is a journey of music from around the world—and the universe. The lineup includes performances called Shadows, These United States, Holidays Around the World, East Asia, The Mediterranean and Soul.

Comprised of college professors, professional musicians and talented students, the group is self-described as an ensemble that “ain’t your mamma’s symphony.” And just last December, the group proved it isn’t an average community band by playing at—and closing—the prestigious Midwest Clinic in Chicago. Only the best bands in America are selected to perform at the clinic after a rigorous audition process, so the invitation to perform at the annual conference is quite the big deal.

First formed in 2009, the band performs at various community venues around town, such as at the College of Southern Nevada, various churches and Las Vegas Academy of the Arts’ Lowden Concert Hall. Led by founder and artistic director Charles Maguire, The Desert Winds is bringing the best they have to offer this season through not only their repertoire choices, but also in what happens while they’re performing.

Their season opener, Shadows takes on an outer-space feel and will feature pieces such as “The Shadow of Sirius” by Joel Puckett and the “Mars” movement from Gustav Holst’s suite, The Planets. The group plans to add projections to create a more visual experience for the audience. The presentation is telling of what’s to come, as this year’s performances look to be a psychological head trip for anybody willing to let themselves experience what good band music sounds like.

“It’s art music. It may be a little stuffy at times, but we want our audiences to feel welcome and not like band music is above them,” Maguire says, adding that formal attire isn’t required for the group’s formal outings. “It’s not tuxedos; it’s jeans and T-shirts or whatever they feel comfortable in. We may wear tuxedos on stage, but we don’t treat our audiences like they’re below us.”

The Desert Winds: Shadows

October 8, 7:30 p.m., Lowden Concert Hall at Las Vegas Academy for the Arts, 315 S. 7th St., thedesertwinds.org

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