The Sierra Nevada Winds are truly a community ensemble; the musicians are your local civic leaders, teachers, band directors, scientists, health professionals and more. It is composed of 50 musicians including woodwinds, brass, percussion, piano and string bass. Many of the members have played with the Folsom, Camellia, Auburn, and other symphonies, as well as military bands.

The group has performed in concert halls, parks and other venues throughout the Sierra and Sacramento Valley as well as in tours to Victoria Canada and, in 2016, to perform in London, England and at the Golowan Festival in Penzance, England. The Winds are well-known for their varied musical repertoire, and they particularly delight in performing works by contemporary composers. In 2015, the Sierra Nevada Winds was one of two bands in the nation to be awarded the Sudler Silver Scroll. This honor is awarded by the John Philip Sousa Foundation and is considered North America’s most prestigious award for community concert bands.

The Winds are registered as a non-profit corporation and is managed by a board of directors. It is funded through dues paid by the members, as well as donations and concert revenue.

Mission Statement

The Sierra Nevada Winds Orchestra provides its audiences with high quality performances featuring the finest traditional and contemporary wind ensemble music. Programs are chosen to educate, stir the spirit and provide emotional and intellectual gratification for both musicians and listeners.

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Sierra Nevada Winds

Sierra Nevada Winds is Awarded the Sudler Silver Scroll!

This honor is awarded by the John Philip Sousa Foundation, and is considered North America’s most prestigious award for Community Concert Bands.

According to John Philip Sousa Foundation, the purpose of the award is to identify, recognize and honor those community bands that have demonstrated particularly high standards of excellence in concert activities over a period of several years, and which have played a significant and leading role in the cultural and musical environment in their respective communities.

We are excited and honored by this award and offer our sincere thanks to the Foundation for their consideration and acknowledgement of our work! We also thank our outstanding conductor, Robert Halseth, for his musicality and excellence in leadership.

Dr. Robert Halseth, Conductor & Music Director

Robert Halseth, November 2015

Robert Halseth was appointed Conductor and Music Director of the Sierra Nevada Winds Orchestra in 2011, following several years as rehearsal conductor, guest conductor, and co-conductor with William “Bill” Hill, who now holds the honorary title “Conductor Laureate.” Since 1993, he has been Director of Bands and Professor of Music at California State University, Sacramento, where he conducts the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, teaches conducting, and is the host/co-clinician of the Sacramento Summer Wind Conducting Workshop, now in its 19th year. For 17 of the past 19 summers, “Dr. Bob” has also worked with young musicians at Donner Mine Music Camp or Cazadero Fine Arts Camp.

He earned two music degrees from California State University, Fresno, and a doctorate in conducting and brass pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado, where his primary professor was Eugene Corporon. He has led ensembles at all levels – elementary through professional – including numerous guest appearances in the United States and abroad. 2013-2014 marks his 50th year of teaching. Previous positions include classroom music teacher in Fresno, band and orchestra director in the public schools of Oceanside, California, and faculty positions at Carroll College (WI), University of the Pacific (Stockton, CA), and Sacramento State.

“My love of music and enthusiasm for teaching come from the strong music education I received growing up in the public schools of Minnesota, the formidable emphasis on music in my church, the encouragement of my family, the terrific education I received in high school and university, and the inspiration I get from players and teachers who daily demonstrate the important role music plays in their lives. My interest in conducting began with Leonard Bernstein’s televised “Young People’s Concerts” with the New York Philharmonic in the late 1950s. When my family moved to California, I just kept on playing trombone and singing, and was delighted to learn this could become a career.”

Dr. Halseth has conducted and adjudicated in some of the world’s premiere concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, the Mondavi Center, Stephens Auditorium, the Sydney Opera House and Atherton Auditorium. He has led ensembles and judged performances in 16 states, plus Australia, Canada, England, Guam, Japan, Singapore and Thailand. In 2011, the California Band Directors’ Association presented him their highest honor: the CBDA Lifetime Achievement Award. And in April 2014, the Capitol Section of the California Music Educators Association recognized him as “Music Educator of the Year.”

During his 40 years as a professional bass trombonist, he held memberships in the National Repertory Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and performed with the Fresno Philharmonic, La Jolla Symphony, Milwaukee Ballet, Stockton Symphony and Bay Bones. He has played hundreds of concerts, operas, musicals, dances and other “gigs,” appearing with such notables as Beverly Sills, Norman Treigle, Pierre Fournier, Bob Hope, Vic Damone, Diahann Carroll, Frankie Avalon, Bobby McFerrin, Cab Calloway, Johnny Mathis and Manhattan Transfer, and under the batons of Arthur Barnes, Paul Vermel, Zoltan Rozsnyai, Piero Gamba, Walter Herbert, Merle Evans, Thomas Nee, Peter Jaffe, Shari Lewis and Arthur Fiedler.

Professional memberships include CMEA/NAfME, WASBE, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Pi Kappa Lambda, CBDA, and he is a Past President of the Western Division of the College Band Directors National Association.

He has four children, two step-children, three grandchildren, and joyfully resides with his wife, Helen, also a musician in the Sierra Winds, in Gold River, California.

William “Bill” Hill, Conductor Laureate


In loving memory

The Sierra Nevada Winds The Sierra Nevada Winds lost someone near and dear to us. Bill Hill served as the Conductor of the SNW for as long as all of our other conductors combined. He took the podium in 1995, and continued to lead us for 16 years until he passed the baton to our current leader, Bob Halseth, due largely to his failing vision. Bill was a larger than life individual, with a clear, unwavering concept of the sound he wanted from the band, and the skills to help us achieve that sound. He constantly searched for exceptional, challenging new music for the band to perform, and spent untold hours crafting the perfect programs to present to our audiences. His leadership guided the band to tremendous musical growth, and helped us to achieve our potential as an ensemble. He was a powerful advocate in the California music education community, and the ripples of his positive efforts as a teacher will continue to spread. We cannot adequately express our sorrow at his passing, but deeply value the friendship, time, learning and fun we had with him