If you didn't come to the Final Band Concert at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts on Friday, May 9, 2014, then you missed something you didn't want to miss. Directed by chair of the Instrumental department Brad Hogarth, this concert was one of the most memorable ones of the whole school year.
The percussion ensemble, performing Ritual Music by David Skidmore, was jaw-dropping, eye-opening, attention-attracting, and lots of other words with hyphens! I cannot name all the instruments because of my total and utter ignorance in percussion instrument names, but Simon Clinton, Jacob Prince, Sachel Rosen, and Trent Tanzi made this performance magnetizing in many different ways. First of all, it was very enthralling to watch four percussionists performing and changing the instrument they were currently performing on, moving around to get to different instruments, particularly the marimba. Three people were playing on it at the same time. It was also very captivating to listen to this music. If you closed your eyes and did nothing but listened to the music, you could almost see a tribe performing a ritual of some sort. Anonymous sources from the audience contributed their visual associations with that music. They insisted that there actually was an invisible shaman dancing on the stage and summoning rain from the sky. (Luckily, no rain actually was summoned). It also seemed like one could dance to it. (No, I didn't try.)
The first three pieces on the program were American Overture by Joseph Wicox Jenkins, Preludio (conducted by french hornist James Ravanal) by Jean Sibelius, and Vesuvius by Frank Ticheli. These three pieces were performed by the wind ensemble. The fact that Sibelius's Preludio was conducted by James Ravanal was very exciting considering the fact that a peer was conducting his peers!
"It's not easy to get in front of your peers and tell them what to do," said Maestro Hogarth after a long round of exhilarated clapping.
Visuvius, being about Monte Visuvio, conveyed that horror and dreadful anticipation of the unknown. The way the percussionists and instrumentalists blended in together at some points and went in opposite directions at others made the piece very diverting despite its tragic theme. You probably know Mount Vesuvius as the stratovolcano that caused the total destruction and burial of Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79.
Because there were two intermissions in the program, one might come to a hasty conclusion that the program was extremely long and boring and in order to ease the pain of the suffering audience members they included three intermissions. But no! That was not the case (although Maestro Hogarth did joke about it in between the pieces performed). During the intermissions, the stage was being set up for the next ensemble while the audience got refreshments and used the loo.
Clown Act by Thomas Kahelin was one of my favorites on the program because of the involvement of different instruments. For example, if I remember correctly, the saxophones stood up and began barking and making strange squeaky noises. (I cannot find better adjectives to describe the sounds that I heard.) It was absolutely unexpected, but hilarious and entertaining. The thing about concerts like this is that they can either be extremely boring to the state of the audience sliding down underneath their seats. Or, it can be so entertaining and intriguing that you find yourself sitting up and listening closely the whole time. A few giggles here and there, a few sighs. At the end of the concert, Maestro Hogarth informed the audience that his mom was supposed to be there but her flight got cancelled. He then went on telling everyone about how his parents supported him in his musical education just like you (the parents sitting in the audience) are now supporting your kids. I found this very touching.
The senior showcase was also a very noteworthy moment in this concert. The seniors were on stage and Maestro Hogarth announced where each person was going to study and what they were going to study there. (To my surprise, there were a lot of future scientists and criminologists!) After that, the seniors surprised Maestro Hogarth by presenting him with their present, or two. He received superglue, a baton of his choice (because they didn't actually have it in physical form then and there), and one thing more.
"We thought you'd like a cup of tea," said french hornist Avery Roth-Hawthorne. "So here's a cup. And two."
The symphonic band ended the concert by performing two pieces: Ave Verum Corpus by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Semper Fidelus March by John Philip Sousa, which were awesome conclusions to this wonderful concert!
There was a feeling of mutual support and respect that was intrinsic to the concert, especially when Matthew Cmiel presented the two parent cinematographers with flowers. Also, a round of applause was devoted to the wonderful Paul Kwapy and his techies who helped make the miracles on stage happen. Some people think that lighting, sound, and other technical aspects of a show happen by themselves. Or maybe if you scream "light!" into the general vacuum of space, it will automatically turn on.
The concert band includes Naomi Goodwin, Doreen Pacini, and Madeline Tuning on flute; Morgan Lucero on oboe; Sameer Elliot, William Geist, Nicholas Lee, Shania Martin, and Megan Masters on clarinet; Trayvon Whitley and Johnathan Wong on bass clarinet; Will Roach on bassoon; Caleb Bombara, Ari Ichinaga, and Keevan Tallon on alto saxophone; John Allen and Jacob Levy on tenor saxophone; Benjamin Siegel on baritone saxophone; Robert Dubrov and Kyle Peters on french horn; Ido Baruch, Claire Bivins, Myles Ehline, Dylan Love-Russom, Derek Pierce, and James Valtin on trumpet; Lonnol Bay and Kieran Briden on trombone; Kiana Moody on Euphonium; Malcolm Mobley and Oliver Volz on tuba; Evan Jeing, Redger Parker, Carlos Ramirez, and Evan Reepen on percussion instruments; and Matt Wong on piano!
The wind ensemble includes Jonathon Lam, Lars Mayrand, Angelina Miller, Doreen Pacini, and Hansen Wu on flute; Dario Cadoppi on oboe; Sarah Evenson, Katalyn Lui, and Rain Talosig on clarinet; Eric Wong on bass clarinet; Sophia Jochnowitz and Margaret Nygard on alto saxophone; Treyvon Brown and Juliana Mastro on tenor saxophone; Gregory Hinson on baritone saxophone; Leo Page-Blau, James Ravanal, and Avery Roth-Hawthorne on french horn; Jordan Lee, Kiva McGahan, Christan Navarro, Gilbert Shaeffer, Janis Stuurman, and Ilia Vanscoy on trumpet; Ruben Sandoval, Hanne Williams-Barron, and Oscar Yau on trombone; Eitan Spiegel, Calvin Walantus, and Elliot Young on tuba; Simon Clinton, Jerome Herrera, Jacob Prince, Sachiel Rosen, and Trent Tanzi on percussion instruments; and Matt Wong on piano!
Special thanks to lighting designer Gabe Pothier, lighting tech Will Rodriguez, and stage manager Reuben Kessler.
Don't forget to pop in tonight for the Orchestra finale!