By Trina Bernal
On March 5th from 7-9pm, Wind Ensemble played two pieces in the PAB directed by Mr. Patrick Martin. The first piece “Third Symphony: The Tragic” was about the composer James Barnes’ late baby daughter Natalie and how the four movements in the piece followed the progress of his feelings after such a terrible incident of losing his child, but seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in his second child Billy Barnes. And the second piece “Symphony No. 2: Voices” by James M. Stevenson was about his mother who sadly passed away just recently on April 23, 2016.
Symphonic band players Christian Calderon (9), sophomores Kenner Escobar (10) and Charles Metzler (10), Kyle Awayan (11), and Skyler Ajero also known as ‘Biddy’ (12) shared their thoughts before the concert. Biddy thought it would take a lot of pride to be in Wind Ensemble, and shared that you have to sight-read, play a few pieces you choose, and a few scales.
Already being in band is an automatic prerequisite to enter Wind Ensemble as an advanced musician. Mr. Martin observes the growing maturity of his musicians and predicts whether they can handle the amazing but honorable hard work the Wind Ensemble class requires of its students. Calderon thought how Wind Ensemble consisting of mostly upperclassmen gives him a lot of pride as he knows he “could be up there someday.” Calderon knows it requires him to continue striving as hard as the junior and senior musicians do when they play at concerts. In addition, Escobar mentions how being a Symphonic Band musician viewing the Wind Ensemble Band “lets you experience a higher band and what you could be doing if you put in the effort.” Metzler agrees with Calderon and shares how it’d be a “huge confidence boost [and] it’s a really big opportunity.” Metzler also feels pride as well knowing some of his best friends including tenor saxophone player Noah Seguerre (12), “He’s an amazing player, a really good person, and I strive to be like him.” Escobar wants to also shout-out trumpet musicians Reshma Vydarakath (12) and Krever Capriso (11).
It is already predetermined how Wind Ensemble should approach these heavy but emotionally-driven pieces; Gentle but firm, courageous yet sensitive, and hopeful yet fragile.
“The Third Symphony: The Tragic” was commissioned by the US Air Force Band in Washington D.C.. Barnes was given no set of standards to create his music by. “I was given complete freedom to write whatever I wanted to. I began to work on it in earnest at a very difficult time in my life, right after our baby daughter Natalie died.” And that he did. During the second movement of the Third Symphony which revolved around feelings of sarcasm towards the world around him, flautist Eleanor Dampier (10) did a duet solo with bass clarinetist Vanessa Morales (11) where “there’s not usually a solo in the second part of Symphony 3,” but they both were able to play their parts. Dampier wanted to shout the flute section out because they’re “all queens!” as well as the piccolo Samantha Friel (11) and oboe player Nyah Santiago (11).
Then there was intermission, where Colorguard performers Zoe Babot (11) and Emma Lindemuth (10) have the opportunity to sell snacks on behalf of the Panther Band and Colorguard organization. Aside from occasionally participating at concessions stands, Colorguard keeps “the band preppy and keep the energy up, spread positivity. We’re kind of like the cheerleaders.”
After the audience ate a snack and chatted with some of the musicians who left the stage, the lights gradually turned back off. “Symphony No.2: Voices” was commissioned by Marine Lieutenant Colonel Jason K. Fettig and the US “President’s Own” Marine Band, and Mr. Martin shared with the audience how “very, very powerful” the piece was and how only college-level bands are known to play this piece. Mr. Martin got to connect with the composer James M. Stephenson, and Stephenson was “very, very impressed that a high school is attempting this.” The piece required an E flat note, which is generally known to represent a sad emotion because of how low it is in the musical scale. And the E flat major would be played towards the end because of how lighter Stephenson’s composition would become.
But towards the end of the piece, bass trombonist Hannah Jones (12) was chosen by Mr. Martin to sing, because tuba player Johann Klapstein (12) shared with Wind Ensemble how Jones can sing. In the last movement of “Symphony No.2,” Stephenson wanted the voice in the music to represent his late mother “conveying ‘all will be okay.’” Jones was supposed to be the loudest but thought the tuba section including Elijah Burckin (11) was louder than her.
When the Wind Ensemble finished their pieces the whole audience gave them a standing ovation where the applause was not only genuine, but eager. Benicia High Alumni Hannah Ojendyk, Kyle Insaurralde, and Nathan Tabtab all felt great honor on behalf of the Wind Ensemble class 2017-18. Upcoming concerts to look out for is Music in Our Schools Concert on March 20th at the Benicia High Gymnasium which features all music groups from elementary to middle to our Benicia High School, and Benicia Bay Winter Review at the Benicia High Gymnasium on March 22nd which features the color guard and drumline.