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Strathmore band, Harmony Magnet choir hit right notes
Music Director Lisa M. Buringrud, conducted both the Strathmore Vocal Ensemble and the Spartan Band in their “Grand Finale Concert,” on Wednesday, May 26 at Harmony Magnet Academy Auditorium. Both musical groups performed three pieces of music written by Dr. Felicia A. B. Sandler.
An early concert attendee, Phillip Ferraro, Campus Supervisor of Harmony Magnet Academy, was very proud of his niece and her school.
“My niece is singing, her name is Marilyn Horner.” Ferraro said that Harmony Magnet Academy is a wonderful school. “It’s going to be a fantastic concert.”
His daughter, Katie, was sitting in the bleacher-like seating at the H.M.A. concert hall, along with her friends Hannah Brumley and Rebecca Buringrud.
The concert prelude started with “Riffin’ Around” and “The Swingin’ Shepherd Blues,” played by the Jazz Ensemble, composed of Matthew Nguyen on trombone, Hector Figueroa on Bari Saxophone, Chris Warson on Tenor Saxophone, Adrian Martinez on Alto Saxophone, accompanied by Andreia Postlewaite on the set drums.
Both pieces were lively and fun, perfect openers for a spectacular concert.
Afterward, the vocal ensemble sang a variety of seven songs, all of which were quite different in melody and timbre. William Billings composed one selection, “Chester” during the American Revolutionary War; another selection, “Sam Was a Man” was based on a poem by E.E. Cummings; and a later selection, “In This Very Room”, was a beautiful, gentle melodic song, based on Biblical scripture.
Next came two exciting songs written by visiting world-renowned composer Dr. Felicia A. B. Sandler. These were completely different from the earlier music and imbibed with vivacity. First came, “Sansa Kroma,” an arrangement of a West African Akan playground song; and second, “Sail Away” an exciting arrangement of an old southern Appalachian folk song, which reminded one of an American square dance. Sandler teaches music at the New England Conservatory of Music, in Boston, Mass. She attended the University of the Pacific in Stockton with Buringrud, where they became life-long friends and music colleagues.
The next two songs were from the movie “Hairspray.” They were vivacious, and bright, with the choral group singing “Welcome to the 60s” and “Good Morning Baltimore.” As students sang and danced, it appeared that they were having a great time together.
Concert attendees Dale and Charlene Anderson said they enjoyed the show. “This is an ambitious program,” Dale Anderson said. “What Lisa is doing with these kids is really wonderful. To get a composer to write a song for them to perform is highly daunting.” Anderson was band director at Monache High School for many years, and remains a revered mentor and teacher throughout the area.
“The kids sound fantastic tonight,” said Monache High alumnus George Baker, who is the Strathmore Band Director. “It is always a thrill to come and hear them play.”
Later, Buringrud directed the world premiere of “Lord Randal” composed by Sandler for Buringrud and her students in the Strathmore music department. This piece was truly an exhilarating piece of music, which contained a beautiful classical lyricism intermixed with fluctuating tempos.
Included in the music program was a tribute to Sandler, where Buringrud quoted Robert Luis Stevenson, “We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend.“ Buringrud said that she had personally found such a friend in Sandler, when they were college students studying to become professional musicians.
During the awards and the tribute, Buringrund gave some kind thoughts to her graduating seniors, “I wish you well in your travels and beyond,” and “seniors, I wish you find a true and friend.”
After the premiere, came the distinguished awards presentation. Here, Buringrud remarked, “I’ve had lots of good students, and if I gave everything out, we would be here all night.”
She explained that both her band and her vocal students often work on commission projects. She said that as a “genre” band has only been around for about 100 years.
Buringrud recognized the seniors who have been in band all four years: Andreia Postelwaite, Sofia Vallejo, Nelson Flores, Victoria Loeffler, and Christina Negrete. Afterward, the merit certificates awards were given to Hector Figueroa, and Gabriela Ceballos. Followed by the musicianship certificates awards handed out to Frank Daybell, Matthew Nguyen, and Robert Pidcoe.
Next, the Patrick Gillmore awards were given to Chris Warson and Adrian Martinez, who Buringrud said “These guys transpose and play different instruments.” The director then remarked that she always has a hard time not giving awards to everyone. So instead of being limited to one, she usually ends up giving out at least two awards.
She then presented the choral awards to Veronica Magana and Victoria Loffler, and then presented the Director’s Award to Victoria Loeffler, saying, “She has worked so hard, given 110 percent all the time.” Last but not least came the John Phillip Sousa Band award, which Buringrud gave to drum major Crystal Ramos and Christina Negrete. She remarked, “This is one of my favorite groups that I have ever worked with.”
After the awards, Buringrud directed a soaringly beautiful piece of music called “The Echo Never Fades.” A memorial piece for an alto saxophone High school student written by David R. Gillingham, it was fabulous.
After the concert, Sandler said, “They did a fantastic job.”
Throughout the concert the crowd gave resounding standing ovations.
“Even though playing an instrument for our high school isn’t necessarily the ‘coolest’ thing to do by standards of other students, “ Strathmore sophomore, Hector Figueroa said, “I don’t really care because it’s something I really enjoy doing. I’ve also built close relationships with some of the band members because we’re like one big family since we’re always together at band events or at school since we have so much in common. Playing an instrument for any type of ensemble group, is something I see myself doing for the rest of my life.”
2009-2010 Awards List for Strathmore High School Music Program
John Phillip Sousa Award
Patrick Gillmore Awards
Section Leader Awards
Christian Negrete, Flute
Sofia Vallejo, Clarinet
Crystal Ramos, Saxophone I
Chris Warson, Saxophone II
Victoria Loeffler, Brass
Andreia Postelwaite, Percussion