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High school bands perform today
As the curtains opened Thursday morning on the Frank “Buck” Shaffer Theater inside the Porterville Memorial Auditorium, a small but diverse audience listened in appreciation as the Pioneer Mustang Band, under the direction of Jack Amaral, opened the 2013 CMEA — California Music Educators Association — Music Festival.
The festival is not a competition, but serves as a gauge for band programs. It is considered to be one of the most important musical events of the year for band directors as a panel of three judges rate the bands as superior, excellent, good, fair or poor, said Jim Kusserow, PHS band director and president of CMEA Central Section.
Thursday’s band lineup consisted mainly of elementary and middle school bands, with the exception of Summit Charter Collegiate Academy, a sixth-to-12th grade school with the majority of its band members in the sixth to eighth grades.
In the audience sat Herminia Torres, mother of Favian Torres who plays a trumpet in the Mustang band.
“They played good. Favian has been playing since the fourth grade so he was ready for today. He wasn’t nervous or anything. I’m very happy for him,” she said. “I tell him to always play with enthusiasm and all will be good. He must like it because year after year, he continues.”
Torres played “Promotion March,” “Shenandoah” and “Afterburn” with the Pioneer band.
Also in the audience, enjoying the music, were Ann Weston of Fresno and Nancy Wuth, wives of a judge and a band director, respectively.
“I feel they’re doing well. They’re prepared,” Wuth said.
Wuth, who played with the Rockford Elementary and Monache High School bands, said the festival brings back memories of her band days.
As the curtains opened to reveal the second school, the Carl Smith Middle School Tiger Band of Terra Bella, band director Ted Wuth stood tall as he faced the judges sitting in the auditorium’s balcony.
Following a short introduction, the band proceeded with its three numbers, ending with “La Fiesta del Tigre” a score with Latin flavor composed by Mike Story.
While the Tiger band played, Pioneer’s Mustangs continued with the next step — a sight-reading clinic at Porterville High School’s older gymnasium, which is directly behind the auditorium.
“It was pretty scary,” said Anakaren Rodriguez, Pioneer Middle School drum major after the clinic. “I was kind of nervous before the curtains opened. But, once we started playing, my fears and nervousness went away.”
Rodriguez, who plays bells and flute, said the band is striving toward a superior rating — the highest that can be bestowed upon a band.
“We really want that superior,” she said. “I’m happy we went first. I think we did pretty good.”
One by one, local bands took the stage to present three numbers before heading to the gymnasium for the sight-reading portion of the festival.
With their presentation done, the Pioneer students relaxed as they entered the auditorium to be a part of the audience. They watched as the curtains opened on the Strathmore Elementary Band.
Under the direction of George Baker, the band opened with “Lexington March” before playing an overture and ending with “Legend of the Alhambra” by Mark Williams, a strong overture in 3/4 time that highlighted every musician from percussion to woodwinds to brass.
The CMEA Festival continues today with the high school bands.
The Orosi High School Concert Band opens the day at 9:30. It will be followed each half hour by a new band, including Exeter High School, Granite Hills High School, Central High School and Monache High School.
The afternoon lineup includes the Sanger Wind Ensemble II at 1 p.m., followed by Strathmore High School, Sanger Wind Ensemble I and Porterville High School closing the festival at 2:30 p.m.
The festival is free and open to the public.
It is held at the Frank “Buck” Shaffer Theater inside the Porterville Memorial Auditorium, 365 W. Olive Ave.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.