Benicia High School’s Band Transports The Audience Into Different Worldscapes

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Picture Credit: Andora June

Article by Trina Bernal

The annual fall concert directed, by Patrick Martin, took place at 7pm on November 6, 2018 in the Benicia High School Hayley Horn Auditorium. All bands: Symphonic, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz, delivered as expected; if not, even more.

    With practices four times a week for the three bands (extra two practices for Jazz), and extra sectionals during lunch and outside-school-hours, it’s not surprising that the auditory quality of the concert is comparable to a movie soundtrack. The first band to play was Symphonic Band. They played multiple pieces that showcased what they learned so far as a group, all the way from Band Camp back in August.

    Symphonic started with “Nemesis” by composer Gary D. Ziek, which personally sounded like it came from a movie about a spy trekking through a jungle. But in a way, Symphonic Band is able to convey through the song how the audience is not alone on this “trek.” The next piece, “In the Light of the Past” by David Forham, is a “pretty piece that makes you remember things”, as Mr. Martin, the band director,  characterized. And that it did; for me, it made me think of exciting childhood memories, like running around the entire neighborhood. The last piece “The Witch and the Saint” by Steven Reineke does, coolly enough, slightly sound like Carmina Burana. The multiple instruments helped embody the mystical conflict and effectively represented the “good v. evil theme” that Mr. Martin said the last Symphonic piece was about.

    And after the three pieces finished, the transition from Symphonic to Wind Ensemble band was swift. When the Wind Ensemble musicians settled into their seats, the sparkling sound of a chime started off the suspenseful “Instinctive Travels,” by composer Michael Markowski. Mr. Martin said that although the Wind Ensemble had to all play in various rhythms, he vocalized how impressed he was to the audience. Despite of the difficult rhythm the song required the musicians to play in, Mr. Martin noted how Wind Ensemble did a “really, really good job.” The final song was “Russian Christmas Music,” by Alfred Reed, which, like most songs, started slow at first but then builds up to a big sound where it transports the whole audience into a celebratory seasonal world. An audience member, Xavier Reese (12), thought the Christmas song gave off good vibes, “It made me feel happy.”

    And after intermission, Jazz band played pieces ranging from a dinner with your lover to a swinging tune. The Jazz band is the smallest of the three bands that played this night, as well as being the group that devotes a lot of time to playing well. Jazz band consisted of two alto saxophone players, Avel Mandap (11) and Steven Bui (12), two tenor saxophone players, Noah Seguerre (12) and Charles Metzler (10), two baritone saxophone players, Jazmine Lopez (11) and Mateo Ignacio (11), four trombone players, Thomas Bergen (12), Parker Stewart (10), Maggie Bergen (11), and Allison Rigler (11), four trumpet players Nathaniel Del Rosario (11), Cameron Lusk (11), Jose Torres (11), and Martin Bernal (11), one guitar player Mariano Elias (10), one bass player Sidney Haywood (11), one piano Madeline Franz (12), one drum Elijah Burckin (11), percussion and sousaphone player Johann Klapstein (12). Trumpet player Martin said it was a relaxing time, “My favorite part of the night was playing music with my friends.”

     When Jazz band played “Latin Import” by John Fedchock, the initial drum beat helped set the tone as the night wound down, thanks to the drum solo by Elijah Burckin (11). It wasn’t long after that the “Cold September Morning,” by Tom Kubis, held the audience’s hand and lifted them into a scenario like that of slow-dancing with your lover. But as slow and romantic-sounding as that is, “Show Up” ended the concert with a bang, with the trumpets sounding off, gradually ascending and transitioning into a steady drum beat tempo, where layers of music follow, thanks to saxophones and trombones. Band alumni and former student, Jason Velasco, liked the part when the trombones came in, stating “It was great.”

    The fall concert was a success, achieving its goal of teleporting the audience into many different scenarios. Please continue supporting the hard work of the Panther Bands by attending the school concerts and local band reviews. The amount of effort put into their work is capricious, but the schools support always makes it feel worth it.

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