Paly band to perform with Greene band in upcoming concert

Sofie Zalatimo and Emily Yun

Palo Alto High School’s Concert Band and Symphonic Band will perform four songs, including a combined piece with Greene Middle School’s 8th Grade Symphonic Band, in a virtual concert at 6:00 p.m. Thursday through a Youtube livestream. 

The Palo Alto High School Bands will host a virtual combined concert with the Greene Middle School Band at 6:00 p.m. Thursday, performing four pieces in total. According to junior trumpet player Israel Cummings, the virtual setting poses challenges for the ensemble to which Cummings has worked to adapt. “We’ve had tech difficulties in the past and hopefully those will be fixed this time,” Cummings stated in a message to The Paly Voice. “Recording pieces individually has definitely been difficult, but it’s nice to still be able to play while being away from school.” Graphic: Palo Alto High School Visual and Performing Arts

“Both the teachers and students are developing additional skills in performing from the comfort of our own homes,” Greg Miller, Paly and Greene band director, stated in an email to The Paly Voice. “We selected music that maintains the same tempo throughout but has considerable technical challenges for the students to overcome while practicing at home.”

According to Miller, the high school bands will both perform march pieces. The Paly 9th Grade Concert Band will play “España Cañi,” a Spanish style march by Pascual Marquina, and the 10th-12th Grade Symphonic Band will play “The Thunderer,” a traditional American march by John Phillip Sousa.

The Greene 8th Grade Symphonic Band will perform “The Forge of Vulcan” by Michael Sweeney individually. Then, the Paly and Greene bands will jointly perform “Green and White,” the Paly Fight Song. 

The students pre-recorded their individual performances, which were then edited into a full concert by the directors.

According to senior drummer and flutist Rein Vaska, the process of editing together individual performances has caused several technical difficulties in past virtual concerts this semester. Vaska stated the greatest technical difficulty has been aligning the audios from each individual performance together.

“If someone was rushing (playing a bit too fast) and someone else was dragging (playing too slow) in person, we would listen to each other and come to a compromise,” Vaska stated in a message to The Voice. “But online, you can’t hear the other people so it’s easy to be a bit off when it comes to timing and tuning.”

According to Vaska, pre-recording his individual performance has been a significantly different experience than playing his instrument in-person at school. Vaska said that he utilizes resources such as a metronome to maintain accurate timing in the absence of a conductor.

“When you’re really in a room musically interacting with other players, it’s a whole different experience from playing alone in your house,” Vaska stated. “I’ve realized that it’s really important to listen closely to the metronome and make sure you play in turn; it’s very easy to get off when you can’t hear other musicians around you.”

Despite this challenge to be more attentive to the timing of his music, Vaska said there are advantages to a virtual environment.

“I actually enjoy getting to redo the video many times until I can really get a very solid take and feel proud of my playing,” Vaska stated. “Sometimes in live band, you make a mistake and there’s nothing you can do to fix it, so online band gives you the opportunity to really practice your part with a lot of attention to detail and work hard to get a really great take of your part.”

The concert will be livestreamed on the Paly Instrumental Youtube channel here.