By Hannah Jones
At the beginning of this month, there was an exciting concert in which nine local high schools offered up their best players in order to make up the 61st annual Solano County Honor Band. Students from all over Solano County including high school musicians from Benicia, Armijo, Dixon, Rodriguez, Vacaville, Vanden, Will C. Wood, Fairfield, Vacaville Christian, and Vallejo, all joined forces to create an amazing overall experience. To get into the Solano County Honor band, you must learn plus record yourself playing the selected pieces, then those recordings are listened by judges who admit you and after, put you into a selected seat. About 43 students from our high school got into this prestigious band, which is a pretty big accomplishment.
The conductor is also a huge part of this family experience. This years conductor was Dr. Royce S. Tevis from California State University, Chico. According to the program, Dr. Tevis currently conducts the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, teaches conducting, wind literature, and instrumental education at Chico state. In the past he has served as the Director of Bands at McNeese State University, the Treasurer of the California Band Directors Association, and as a trumpet instructor at the Peninsula Conservatory of Music. He got both his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from California State University Chico and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Michigan State University.
The most important part of the whole experience is of course the music. We played a total of five pieces that varied in genres and styles, many of them were even composed by Plutzer Price. We played Commando March by Samuel Barber which is an upbeat march that has a short little clip of Star Wars in it for some reason. We then played the most interesting piece of the concert which is “Bali” by Michael Colgrass. This piece was amazing for a lot of different reasons, but one of the most obvious was the fact that the percussion played different shapes and sizes of pots to add to the culture of the piece. The next song was a classic choral by Bach called, “Kumm Susser Todd”, which means Come Sweet Death. It was a very moving piece that could bring the audience to tears with all of the emotion that was captured between the notes. The second to last song of the concert was” Fantasies on a Theme” by Haydn, composed by Norman Dello Joio. This song was a series of different variations of one main theme that was played in the first part of the song. The different variations were split into different fantasies. Dr. Tevis described this piece of music as “bipolar”, since it would quickly change back and forth from light bouncy melodie,s to dark and heavy moving lines. The final piece of the concert was a groovy, jazzy song called “Melodious Funk”, by David Biedenbender. This was a nice way to end the concert because it was such a fun and groovy piece.
The best part of the honor band is the experience that the musicians get by being apart of it. As a third year member, I can say that it is a very different experience than the regular band. The music is given out only about two weeks before the concert and you are expected to be familiar with the music even before the band meets together as a whole. The week of the concert is the first time that the group meets together and then only met three times before the concert. The rehearsals are long and intense, sometimes you really just don’t want to be there. But the ending product is completely worth the 17+ hours of playing that we do in one weekend to prepare for the concert.
This is not the only honor band that our band is participating in. Five students, Elijah Burken (11), Zachary Green (10), Krishna Mandal (10), Maxine Mayor (11), and Noah Seguerre (12), also got admitted to the All- Northern Honor Band which happens this weekend in Stockton. Krishna Mandal (10), also got into All- State Honor Band which is extremely huge honor and it is so amazing that he got in.