• High School Honors Concert a Smashing Success

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    Photo: Guest Honor Band Conductor Paul Bambach takes a bow with the Honor Band at Saturday’s Central Coast Section Honor Concert presented by the California Association for Music Education.

    Last Saturday’s performance by the Central Coast Section was rousing. As we reported last week, more than 40 Pacific Grove High School students were selected for this honors concert from schools on the central coast from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo. PGHS students made up a sizeable percentage of the chosen students and, as always, gave an exciting concert before a full audience of family and friends.

    The concert, held at Sherwood Hall in Salinas, was divided into 3 sections, Honor Choir, Honor Orchestra, and Honor Band, each section with a different group of students and a different guest conductor. Students spend many hours in practice with these conductors. In a sense, the rehearsals are nothing short of workshops in their length and intensity. In a matter of a few days, in very intense rehearsals, each conductor moulds dozens of students from different schools into unified performing units. The process leaves the students enriched and leaves the audience impressed.

    Guest conductor of the Honor Choir, Dr. Elena Sharkova, set the high energy mood immediately with traditional Zambian song “Bonse Alba”, which had the nearly 90 singers dancing, singing, and moving energetically to this happy praise song. The Choir moved on to choral music, then a wonderful tango piece, “Libertango”, concluding with an entertaining gospel piece “You Got Ta Move”, based on an old blues song but tricked up with some very modern features, including a bit of gospel “rap”. Hard to imagine, but it worked. The Choir’s performance left the audience cheering.

    Honor Orchestra showed it’s performing prowess under guest conductor John Morrice in a selection of symphonic pieces by Handel, Mendelssohn, and Holst. The Holst piece in particular, the first movement of the “St. Paul Suite”, moved the audience into some of the lovely abstractions and impressionism of our modern era. Orchestral performance may be the hardest to master due to the nature of the string instruments, but these students, many of whom we have watched grow over the years, have risen to the challenge and have reached their mark.

    With UC Santa Barbara’s Paul Bambach conducting, Honors Band wrapped up the concert with some well executed pieces starting off with Fanfare for a “New Era” by Jack Stamp and moving on to Scenes from “The Louvre” by Norman Dello Joio. These are moody, fun pieces, but “Cloudburst” was the moodiest and the most fun, since the audience participated. As the cloud bursts in the music it begins to rain. Bambach turned to the audience to give the cue to start snapping fingers. The collective sound of an audience snapping fingers creates a realistic imitation of pattering rain. The Band concluded with Frank Ticheli’s energetic “Nitro” .

    posted to Cedar Street Times on January 30, 2009

    Topics: Schools


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