The college orchestra performs on April 29, while the symphony group plays on May 6


FARMINGTON — As director of instrumental music at San Juan College, Teun Fetz is responsible for selecting the material that the school’s two classical music ensembles — the San Juan College Orchestra and the San Juan College Symphonic Band — will play during of their end-of-semester concerts each. fall and spring.

It’s not a scientific or analytical process, he insists, explaining that he’s more inclined to follow his instincts when sifting through the possibilities.

“I choose the music that I like, the music that I would like to listen to as an audience member,” he said. “I guess my philosophy is, ‘Life’s too short to listen to shitty music.'”

When the orchestra takes the stage this weekend for its end-of-semester concert, it will present a program that Fetz says is perhaps the most ambitious collection of music he has attempted to perform since he joined the faculty in 2015.

But Fetz thinks the time is right for his orchestra — which is made up of local professional and community players, in addition to students — to step up his game.

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“For me, I’m always looking for challenges,” he said. “I think these pieces are doable in the time we have.”

The music is also very accessible, both for performers and viewers, he said.

The concert will be highlighted by a solo clarinet performance by Katie Fetz, Fetz’s wife, who will perform the first movement of Aaron Copland’s “Concerto for Clarinet, Strings and Harp”.

Teun Fetz described it as a very difficult piece to play in terms of register, but said it’s a magnificent work by the artist he considers America’s greatest composer.

Katie Fetz

While Katie Fetz has previously performed with the orchestra as a member of the clarinet section, Teun Fetz said this will be the first time she’s been featured as a soloist. He said he had no doubts that she was up to the task.

“She’s an incredible musician and a very good clarinetist,” he said. “And she always wanted to do this piece.”

Another highlight will be a rendition of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise,” another stunning piece that Fetz has described as one of the composer’s best-known works. The degree of difficulty inherent in performing this work is typical of the material he chose for this program, he said.

“I really pushed them on music that they had never done before,” Fetz said of the students who make up the 43-member orchestra. “…We think outside the box and try to expose them to a repertoire they should be familiar with.”

Fetz acknowledged that it was difficult for some of his students to meet the challenge.

“Some of them aren’t ready, but at the same time they’re really pushing and improving,” he said, adding that the band’s professional musicians have responded by taking their less experienced colleagues under their wing. .

“Having these guys as mentors really helps,” Fetz said. “That leadership is really underrated, but it’s important that young players have someone to rely on.”

Fetz said it can be difficult for him to provide this kind of mentorship behind the conductor’s podium, so he really appreciates the degree to which his professional musicians have worked to build a relationship with the students.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” he said. “The dynamic and the atmosphere are really positive. Everyone supports each other a lot.”

The San Juan College Symphonic Band will wrap up the music department’s spring concert series next week with its own performance. Fetz said this program will feature eight tracks, almost all of which he described as passionate, fast-paced and energetic.

The list includes “Celebration and Song” by Robert Sheldon, “Circus Bee March” by Henry Fillmore, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” by Randall Standridge, “Counterbalance” by Todd Stalter and “March from Symphonic Suite” by Clifton Williams. A highlight of the concert will be a solo performance on alto saxophone by Farmington High School band manager Alex Olivas on Bernhard Heiden’s “Diversion,” a piece that Fetz says is filled with hills and valleys.

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Alex Olivas will be the featured soloist on alto saxophone when the San Juan College Symphonic Band performs Friday, May 6 in Farmington.

“He looks amazing,” Fetz said of Olivas’ performance on the play. “He’s an awesome player.”

The concert will also include a performance of “The Hounds of Spring, a Concert Overture for Winds” by Alfred Reed, which Fetz says is very appropriate for this time of year. Fetz said Robert Longfield’s arrangement will put the whole symphony to good use.

“Every section is presented, and it’s a very celebratory piece,” he said.

Fetz said the college’s music department survived the COVID-19 pandemic in remarkable condition, given the kinds of restrictions that have been placed on musicians’ ability to work with each other over the two last years.

In fact, enrollment in two of the introductory online music courses he runs has never been higher, he said, and he hopes that’s a sign the department is on. the point of rebounding considerably.

Fetz said his department has made progress despite the pandemic, which he says is obvious to anyone who regularly attends the department’s end-of-semester performances.

“(The composition of the bands) changes from semester to semester, but in the seven years that I have been here, we have continued to grow with each semester and each series of concerts,” he said. he declares. “People I’ve spoken to have said that each gig just gets better and better and the musicians are better and more inventive. … It’s just great to have everyone back in the fold and see everyone again. .”

The San Juan College Orchestra performs at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 29 at the Henderson Performing Arts Center Performance Hall on the college campus, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington. The San Juan College Symphonic Band will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, May 6 at the same location. Tickets for both concerts are $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. They can be purchased online at or in person at the college bookstore or box office.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription:


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