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USC Wind Ensemble announces CD release

The University of South Carolina Wind Ensemble released its CD, featuring the music of American composer Leonard Bernstein for wind band, on February 5.

The CD, recorded in October 2011, is being released by Naxos, the world's largest classical music label. The USC Wind Ensemble production is the first by Naxos to feature Bernstein.

Scott Weiss, director of USC bands, calls Bernstein one of the great musicians of the 20th century.

“Along with Copland and Gershwin, he is royalty as far as American composers go. His music, while not originally conceived for wind ensemble, lends itself exceedingly well for this medium, and we are very excited to have the only all-Bernstein wind ensemble CD on the market,” Weiss says.

Students were selected to play on the CD through a blind audition process in August 2011. The ensemble rehearsed six hours a week from August until October, when they recorded the music over four days in the Koger Center for the Arts.

Music education major Benjamin Pullara said recording the CD was a thrilling and intimidating process.

“It had some really intense rehearsals. We had to practice our parts individually, and when we got together as a group, we had to make sure we were perfect and consistent,” Pullara says.

The USC Wind Ensemble is the university’s top concert band, open to all students. It was formerly known as the Symphonic Band.

The disc is available on iTunes and Amazon at, and includes Bernstein classics such as the Overture to “Candide,” the Symphonic Suite from “On the Waterfront,” and Three Dance Episodes from “On the Town.” The CD also includes the little-known “Fanfare for the Inauguration” of John F. Kennedy.

“In selecting music for this disc, I wanted to represent all sides of Bernstein the composer. So, on the CD is symphonic music, music for the theatre, film music and ballet music. Like Bernstein, the music is eclectic and engaging. At some points, somber and at other points, completely over-the-top, it’s a wild ride from start to finish! I think everyone from the casual listener to the classical music aficionado will enjoy the music on this disc,” Weiss says.

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