The Hillcrest Wind Ensemble, one of Southern California's finest adult musical organizations, celebrates over 30 years of providing quality musical programs for the greater San Diego community. Originally called San Diego's Finest City Freedom Band, the group was formed in 1986 to bring music to the LGBT community as a marching band that also played concerts. With the turn of the new century, the band has evolved into an elite wind ensemble, playing more advanced music with a new mission to entertain the ideal of diversity within our ranks as well as promoting quality music to all of San Diego.

The Hillcrest Wind Ensemble is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. We exist on income from concert ticket sales and donations from patrons and sponsors.


The purpose of this Band shall be to promote general harmony through music performance.

The Hillcrest Wind Ensemble is one of Southern California’s finest adult musical organizations. We provide quality musical programs for the greater San Diego community. We strive to perform innovative and more advanced music in order to educate and entertain, reflecting the ideal of diversity within our ranks as well as promoting quality music to all of San Diego.  

This organization, in all facets, shall oppose discrimination and brutality through peaceful means and shall be co-sexual and non-sexist in its goals, membership, objectives and organization, and shall always foster pride in its unity and achievements.

In order to achieve and maintain a high level of musical integrity, the Band shall adhere to the guidelines of a contemporary wind ensemble. The contemporary wind ensemble shall be structured as to allow one musician per part (with the exception of two or three musicians to a part for flutes and clarinets at the Artistic Director’s discretion).  This instrumentation encourages each player to raise their standards of musicianship and confidence as individuals, and as an ensemble.  The simplistic nature of the wind ensemble requires each musician to excel in their skill, demanding a performance of precision and accuracy.  It is our hope to set an example as an elite wind ensemble, and thereby inspire future musical organizations to continue in true wind ensemble tradition.

Artistic Direction


Artistic Director

John Winkelman

The artistic director and conductor of the Hillcrest Wind Ensemble is John Winkelman. His musical background includes conducting as well as an extensive performance background on tuba. His musical career covers over 40 years of performance, conducting, and composition.

A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, John began music studies at an early age.  His first composition, Alaskan Rhapsody, was composed at the age of 17 and was performed by his high school band.  Several smaller compositions followed for his fellow classmates and were performed at various recitals and concerts.   This eventually lead him to study composition with John Zdechlik, conducting with Robert Hallquist and music performance at the University of Minnesota studying tuba performance with Ross Tolbert of the Minnesota Orchestra.

After pursuing a career in sales and marketing, John resumed composing as a creative outlet. Several of his original compositions and arrangements for brass are published with Solid Brass Music.  Music for wind ensemble and concert band can be found at JW Pepper.  Original pieces and arrangements have been recently performed by the Hillcrest Wind Ensemble, Pomerado Brass Quintet, and the Germania Choir. John has an extensive performance background in music and has played with several community and professional groups in Minnesota and in San Diego.  In San Diego, John has performed in the UCSD Wind Ensemble, Mesa College Band, San Diego Concert Band, La Jolla Symphony, San Diego Men's Chorus, Tifereth Israel Community Orchestra, the Tuba Fours (a tuba quartet), Pomerado Brass Quintet, Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra and other ensembles.  

John’s initial conducting experience began in St. Paul as musical director for Glass Theater. He also served as assistant director with Chimera Theater, at the St. Paul Arts and Science Center and has performed for Dudley Rigg's Brave New Workshop, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, St. Paul’s JCC Orchestra, Nicollet Brass Quintet, Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus, and more.  He has conducted the Hillcrest Wind Ensemble for over 20 years.

Associate Artistic Director

Christian Tordahl

The associate artistic director and conductor of the Hillcrest Wind Ensemble is Christian Tordahl.

Christian is a native of Tappan, New York. He began playing trumpet at the age of 9, and studied throughout high school with Dick San Filippo. At age 17, Christian was featured soloist with the Rockland Suburban Symphony Orchestra, playing Purcell’s Sonata for Trumpet and Orchestra and Leroy Anderson’s Trumpeter’s Lullaby. He continued his music studies at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, earning a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education. While at Bucknell, he travelled bi-monthly to Eastman School of Music to take trumpet lessons with Barbara Butler. Mr. Tordahl earned a Master of Music degree in Wind Ensemble and Band Conducting from the University of South Florida where he studied with Dr. Mallory B. Thompson. Other renowned wind conductors Mr. Tordahl has worked with include Donald Hunsberger, H. Robert Reynolds, John Paynter, Eugene Corporon, Tom Lee, Larry Rachleff, and Alan MacMurray.


Christian has been an instrumental music educator since 1989. He has taught in a diverse array of schools and programs, including string orchestra at Rochelle School of the Arts in Florida, wind ensemble at Kathleen Senior High School in Florida, concert band at Harry B. Thompson Middle School in New York, and concert band at Hilltop High School in Chula Vista, California. While living in New York, Christian conducted the Wind Ensemble of the New York City Catholic Schools Honor Band Festival for the years 1999-2001. He also conducted the San Diego Young Artists Symphony Winds ‘n’ Brass at San Diego’s Copley Symphony Hall in 2011.


Christian is currently Instrumental Music Director at Hilltop Middle School in Chula Vista, where he directs the Falcon Band, Falcon Orchestra, and teaches beginning guitar. In addition to performing with the Hillcrest Wind Ensemble, he plays trumpet with the Pomerado Brass Quintet and for various musical theater productions throughout the year.




Board of Directors


Production Staff
Concert Producers: Janine Donston, Sara Baird, Gary Poirier,  Keith Schooler, Miranda Osguthorpe
Ticket Sales: Miranda Osguthorpe
Volunteer Coordinators: Janine Donston
Script: Eddie Blough
Concert Advertising: Gary Poirier
Recording: Oscar Green, Keith Schooler
Librarian: Eddie Blough

Website Manager: Keith Schooler

Composition Contest Coordinator: Sara Baird

In Memoriam


Gary Chong
John Clark
"Queen" Eddie Conlon
John Donarum
James Hageter
Blake Henry
Rob Howarth
Kevin Jordan-Coates


Stefaan Kiebooms

Herb King
"Doc" Moffett
Benjamin E. Moore
David O'Reilly
Kathy Rotzinger
Edward L. Tiedman
Dennis Torza