May 14, 2001

CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu



CSUB musician performs at Carnegie Hall

GoniA California State University, Bakersfield musician will perform in world-renowned Carnegie Hall in a weeks after being selected for the National Wind Ensemble, a 75-member band comprised of the nation's best college and high school musicians.

Martin Goni, who will graduate in June with a double major in music and accounting, will leave for New York City on May 20, with chair auditions scheduled for May 23 and rehearsals beginning on May 24. The Carnegie Hall curtain will rise on the select band at 8 p.m. May 26.

Goni, who plays the French horn, is excited about his upcoming trip, but also is keeping it in perspective. "It's called the National Wind Ensemble, but that's just a fancy name for band," he said. "It has all the instruments that don't have strings."

He said he was encouraged to apply for the ensemble by CSUB music professor Gordon Mehling.

"I had to make an audition tape of no more than 10 minutes," he said. "All seniors have to do a senior recital, and I used one of the pieces I prepared for my senior recital for the audition tape. It had to be a major work for your instrument. I chose the opening movement of the Atterburg Horn Concerto. Charles Badami (a CSUB music professor) accompanied me, and helped me make the tape. Seven horn players were selected from around the country."

He said his mother got the call MidAmerica Productions, the sponsoring organization, saying he had been selected for the band. "They said, 'You'll be getting a letter in the mail, but we just wanted to let you know your son has been selected.'"

He said the "group will get together, rehearse 2-1/2 days, then perform in Carnegie Hall. We'll play an arrangement of 'Amazing Grace,' two pieces by Leonard Bernstein, and also premiering a piece. The performance is not only for the performers but also a composition competition. This group performs a work for the first time.

"Our conductor is H. Robert Reynolds from the University of Michigan. He's also a respected composer."

Goni credits Mehling for his success. "If it wasn't for him I wouldn't have gotten this far," he said. "He was the one who got me here to Cal State. He heard about me somehow. He had me play in Musica da Camera (CSUB's chamber orchestra) when I was a senior in high school. I've had so many opportunities here that I wouldn't have had if I went on to a bigger school. ... He promised he would keep me busy, and he definitely did.

"I've enjoyed him as a professor. You can learn so much from him in five minutes, it's amazing. He makes you see the music in ways you'd never think about."

Mehling is extremely pleased and proud of his protégé. "Martin is our outstanding graduating senior, is a double major and has a 3.98 grade point average," he said. "He's been the mainstay of countless performances. He's performed with Musica da Camera. He's the only undergraduate I know who's made his own CD, which is better than most doctoral candidates. He's at that level."

Goni has been working toward that level since elementary school. "I started playing the horn in fourth grade," he said. "I played piano since I was 4, but in fourth grade the band director said I'd play the horn. I said no, I want to play the clarinet. But she said people who play the piano have a good ear for the horn, so I've been playing the horn ever since.

"With the horn, you have to be able to hear the pitches before you can play them," he explained. "It's not like a flute or clarinet where you push down a key, blow and the note comes out. It's more like the horn doesn't play the note, you do. There's a lot of manipulation with your lips. And that's hard for beginning students to grasp."

Goni says he loves the French horn for two reasons. "I think it's the duality," he said. "It can be strong and forceful at one moment and soft and lyrical the next. I guess it's the versatility, you might say. It's something you can play in a band or an orchestra. It fits both areas."

A sixth-year senior, from Wasco, Goni is looking forward to graduating. "Finally!" he said.

Scholarships have played a big part in Goni's career at CSUB. "I received a Merit Scholarship. ... A big donor has been Hispanic Excellence Scholarship fund, which is great because I wouldn't have been able to afford it otherwise."

He's also used to the puzzled looks about his choice of majors. "Ever since I was little always knew I wanted to be an accountant. I walked into an accountant's office with my parents, looked around and just knew that's what I wanted to do. Took accounting in high school, so that quantified my feelings."

But which profession is he going to pursue? "That's a hard question," he said. "Right now have a fulltime job with an accounting firm - Sprayberry Barnes Marietta & Luttrell - but I want to keep up the music. Originally I thought I would be going to go to graduate school in music. I thought I could be a studio musician in Hollywood, but Dr. Mehling said opportunities in Los Angeles are hard to come by. So I'm planning to pursue a CPA background, and I'll have that to fall back on before I jump into the music world."



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