Gorge Winds performs Christmas Concert Sunday

The Gorge Winds concert band, a 45-member adult community band, plays its Christmas Concert on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at The Dalles Civic Auditorium.

The concert will feature an hour and a half of Christmas music including an arrangement of “Silent Night” by the ever popular Mannheim Steamroller, “White Christmas,” and a rousing, foot-stomping “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

Director Sam Grotte said the volunteer musicians “play music for the sheer joy of it.”

During most of the year, they play for outdoor festivals, schools, hospitals, nursing homes and college graduations. The music runs from Broadway show tunes to light classical, marches and pops — much like the programs of the Boston Pops, but without string instruments. The Gorge Winds is a “wind band,” meaning clarinets, flutes, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, baritone horns, tubas and lots of percussion “toys.”

Extremely popular in the early years of the 20th century, concert bands are making a comeback, according to Grotte, of White Salmon. There are now thousands in the United States and a lot more in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, etc., and more each year. In the heyday of concert bands, nearly every town of more than a thousand had a band and a fine covered bandstand, so they could play outdoors in less than perfect weather.

The Gorge Winds was started about three years ago with about 22 musicians. It’s grown to over 45 and the musicianship has certainly outgrown its physical size. The band’s members hail from nearly every community from Stevenson to Goldendale to Condon to the Tri-Cities, but most folks come from The Dalles and Hood River.

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