Retired CLU professor conducts concert

Dressed to the nines: Elmer Ramsey addresses the crowd.
Photo by Debben Hoffer – Staff Photographer

As the conductor raised his hands, The Big Band started to play, following every direction and movement. Elmer Ramsey, the conductor of the Valentine concert, set the tempo with a strong beat and clear rhythym. The concert was held on Feb. 9  in the Samuelson Chapel at 7:30 p.m.

The Big Band orchestra consisted of 17 musicians and two vocalists, Nancy Osborne and Ned Risken. Osborne sang, “My Funny Valentine,” which is recorded in her last CD named “Hot Swing, Cool Jazz” and has been nominated for a Grammy.

“I love ‘My Funny Valentine,’ I always like that song,” said Louise Lynca, a Thousand Oaks local who attended the Big Band concert.

The orchestra played romantic songs that debuted around the 1940’s. The sound of the orchestra made the crowd remember the good times of the jazz era and its lyrics.

“Just to be able to hear big band music like this in Thousand Oaks, you don’t hear this. It’s hard to find this style of music being done anywhere. You can go to Los Angeles and not get as good music as this, especially in the old style,” said Bill Benson, the conductor of the Conejo Valley Youth Orchestra.

A touching moment occurred when Ramsey dedicated the song “Violets for Your Furs” to his wife Elaine.

“Hopefully this doesn’t embarrassed her, I couldn’t have done anything without her,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey at the very early age of four-years-old began playing instruments. Coming from a family of musicians from North Dakota, he became very involved in music. Ramsey’s father and uncle played the fiddle and his mother played the piano. At age 14 he started playing trumpet professionally and by the time he was 21, Ramsey started his professional career by conducting 15 performances of the “Mikado” at the Portland Civic Theatre. His recording conducting includes the classical records of Grammy award winning guitarist Laurindo Almeida.

Always seeking more depth and experienced role as a conductor, Ramsey gained much from discussions on conduction with Norman Del Mar and Sir Adrian Boult while visiting scholar at Oxford, England, in 1979-1980. In July 1993 received a special award for his creative output of over 250 arrangements, 20 compositions and six films. Ramsey also received the first Encore for Excellence in the Arts from the Thousand Oaks Arts Commission on behalf of the cultural arts in the community and the growth of performing arts. Based on Ramsey he enjoys playing in a Big Band because of the music itself and it’s also fun.

Ramsey showed experience and talent when he conducted The Big Band on each song and melody at the Valentine Concert.

Even though The Big Band had one rehearsal that early evening, according to Ramsey, the band played with emotion and grace.
The orchestra consisted of some CLU alumni whom Ramsey had being a professor to when he taught at California Lutheran University.

“I love playing for him,” sai George Carganilla, class of 1977.

As the concert ended you could hear the sound of the trumpets followed by the trombone and the saxophone, all playing at the same melody of “Lovely Way to Spend an Evening.” Then the crowd gave a standing ovation to The Big Band Orchestra.

“Definitely loved the redemption of “Harlem Nocturne”. I thought Dr. Ray did a great job; amazing. It’s a great event,” said junior Wayne Swinson.


Kikey Aguila Bello
Staff Writer
Published Feb. 13, 2013