Westwood Winds' First Performance Since Pandemic Exudes Energy, Excitement (Updated)


Photo by Westwood Minute/Darlene Wong Cancell. WestwoodWinds performs at St. Margaret Mary Church in Westwood on August 7, 2023.

In its first performance since the pandemic, with support of family
and community and under the direction of new Musical Director Melissa
Laurencio, WestwoodWinds community band performed Music Through The Americas with energy and liveliness before a crowd of around 90 people at St.
Margaret Mary's Church in Westwood on Monday evening, August 7, 2023.

It is the unique, creative energy of family that makes this group
special to Ms. Laurencio, a Prodigy Program instructor at Westwood High
School and director of Roma Band Musicians. "I know many of the students
here [ ] because either I taught them or I met one of their siblings in master classes or something that I conduct," she said.

"One of the things that's really unique about this group is that you
find mothers and sons playing together," noted Ms. Laurencio.
"We have two sets of mothers and sons. We have father and son playing
together. We also have an uncle and a niece playing together. And so it
just really great to see everyone getting together and having a
generational, fun experience."

Photo by Westwood Minute/Darlene Wong Cancell. Melissa Laurencio conducts WestwoodWinds in its first performance in three years on August 7, 2023.

The group of amateur musicians had been practicing together since June, and has received much community support along the way. The Westwood High School Music Department loaned many of the percussion instruments to the group and contributed sound system equipment. First Parish of Westwood provided space to the band for rehearsals. St. Margaret Mary Church hosted the concert, which was made available for the community to view by Westwood Media Center.

The band played uplifting pieces from North and South America, beginning with John Philip Sousa's The Liberty Bell March as re-scored by Bill Holcombe and John Burkett, and followed by songs including The Muppet Show Theme, A Disney Spectacular, Mambo No.5, and two selections by Carlos Santana.

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"I'm really grateful to Jim for this experience and for thinking of
me to conduct the group," said Ms. Laurencio, referencing WestwoodWinds
founder and recently retired director Jim Biruleo.

"The band members have been wonderful," she said. "They've really
made this such a great experience. I've enjoyed working with them each
week. It's just been a blast. It's been one of the highlights of my

Thanks to Melissa Laurencio for speaking with Westwood Minute.

Updated 8/15/2023 at 12:17 p.m. A link to video has been added.

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