Ryan Chartrand

The Cal Poly Wind Orchestra and the San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra will team up for the first time for the Town and Gown Musical Extravaganza Sunday at Arroyo Grande’s Clark Center at 3 p.m.

The phrase “Town and Gown” represents the pairing of the community orchestra, the “town,” with the university orchestra.

The annual winter concert will feature multiple guest conductors, including, music junior Amanda Yoshimizu. It is uncommon that students, especially undergraduates, possess the skill to conduct an orchestra, said William Johnson, who conducts the university wind orchestra and wind ensemble.

“My teacher saw something in me and he wanted me to follow through on it,” Yoshimizu said of Johnson.

Yoshimizu plays trombone but became interested in conducting and took classes last year. Fall quarter, she conducted the Cal Poly symphony and wind orchestra. This Sunday, she will conduct a piece called “Cajun Folk Songs” for the student orchestra, a lively number that jumps back and forth between meters.

“I’m not as nervous as I was before,” she said. “I feel a lot more comfortable with the piece that I’m doing this time.”

“They chose something that would help me develop as a conductor,” she said of her professors.

Johnson said he could tell at the last rehearsal that Yoshimizu had been working hard on the piece.

“She has it totally memorized,” he said. “She studied it extra well.”

Yoshimizu plans to attend graduate school for conducting and said she has always wanted to be a band teacher.

Johnson, however, said he had bigger ideas for his pupil.

“She’s capable of conducting the Chicago Symphony, or the San Francisco Symphony,” said Johnson, and that Yoshimizu had an innate talent that made her stand apart from her peers.

“I could see that she had the natural ability to communicate music through her body. That’s what conductors do,” Johnson said. He said it would take even a talented person months to learn how to do this.

“But she does it naturally,” he said. “She is fantastic.”

The San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra will play two songs conducted by Chungsam Doh, the former director of the Korean Navy Band. One of Doh’s pieces, called “Arirang” is a series of variations on a popular Korean folk song.

Johnson met Doh, who now lives in Morro Bay, through a Rotary Club meeting and traveled to Korea with him for a music workshop. Johnson said he invited Doh to conduct a piece for the winter concert.

“He was thrilled to do it,” Johnson said.

“He doesn’t say a lot, but you know what he wants,” said political science senior Casey Coe of the guest conductor. Coe, who plays alto saxophone for the wind orchestra, said it was refreshing to have Doh as a guest and that he gave the performance a little variety.

Christopher J. Woodruff, Cal Poly’s new associated director of bands, will also guest conduct two pieces for the wind orchestra. Woodruff, who plays trumpet, recently moved to the central coast from Pennsylvania, where he taught for six years. His pieces will open and close the performance.

Woodruff said all the pieces in the concert were very different, but they “still wanted to put together a program that is going to be entertaining for our audience.”

Among the noteworthy pieces of the performance are “Ghost Train,” inspired by an American legend, and “And Can it Be?” which was written in response to the Columbine High School shootings.

“It’s very moving,” Johnson said of the piece adding that it’s full of tension and terror. “It’s terrifying to listen to at times.”

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