Band and orchestra score high at CMEA festival

    Palo Alto High School’s band and orchestra received high scores at the California Music Education Association Festival on Saturday at Gunn High School.

    According to sophomore orchestra member Charulata Das, both the Concert and Symphonic Bands received unanimous superiors. Das, who is the principal second violinist, says that the orchestra also received two superiors and one excellent.

    Paly’s band and orchestra played in front of three judges, each giving a score of 70 or more. A score in the 80s is an “excellent” ranking and a score in the 90s is a “superior” ranking. If every judge gives them a score of 90 or above, they earn a composite ranking of “unanimous superiors” and receive a plaque for their performance, according to band and orchestra teacher Jeff Willner.

    The CMEA is an organization with members of high school music teachers from all around the state, and had school music programs from around the Bay Area competing, according to Willner.

    The Concert Band played “Liadov Fanfare” and “English Suite,” the Symphonic Band performed “Amazing Grace” and “On the Town” and Orchestra played “Holberg Suite,” “Pantomime” and the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. The symphonic band is composed of sophomores, juniors and seniors and the concert band is comprised of freshmen.

    All three groups also participated in a sight-reading performance, or reading and performing music without preparation, according to sophomore tuba player August Soderberg.

    “We worked hard to fix every aspect of each piece,” Soderberg said.  “We actually sight read a piece from ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ for sight reading practice.”

    Soderberg says that he is not surprised at how well the band performed.

    “We have practiced in the Haymarket, so it was easy to get used to the Gunn [High School] stage,” Soderberg said. “From there, we just played our music like we did at rehearsals and it went very well.”

    Das attributes the band and orchestra’s success to their hard work.

    “We worked really hard for this concert,” Das said. “We have been practicing for the last couple of months and we did pretty well, so all the work paid off. Also, Mr. Willner is an amazing director for orchestra.”

    Das says that the next step for band and orchestra is focusing on the upcoming concerts.

    “Our next concert is on May 12, and we want more people to come and be aware of how hard the music department works to put on these shows,” Das said.

    The Symphonic and Concert Band’s last few performances include the May Fete Parade and a concert on May 12 in the Haymarket Theater. They will also be performing at graduation.

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