DHS Symphonic Band joins with college-level ensembles for the Festival of Bands

By From page A9 | February 14, 2014

Playing in front of a live audience can be frightening, but playing next to college-level musicians can raise the nerves even higher. Luckily, the Davis High Symphonic Band is up to the challenge.
Sacramento State and UC Davis bands will perform with DHS musicians in the Festival of Bands at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, in the Brunelle Performance Hall at Davis High, 315 W. 14th St.
“We’re learning and experiencing how to play in a different environment than what we’re used to in the classroom. For some of us, it’s our first time working with college-level bands; that’s significant,” senior band member Daniella Reyes said.
Performing pieces such as “Suite Dreams” by Steven Bryant, “The Full Suite for Military Bands” by Gustav Holst and “Greenbushes” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, the night will feature music ranging from contemporary to classical to folk.
“We will be playing a song that alludes to another song (‘Suite Dreams’),” senior flute section leader Seunghyun Kim said. “ ‘Suite Dreams’ has eccentric parts to it such as humming and improvising to convey an eerie tense sensation through the piece … so we create an intricate web of melody.”
Apart from the distinct music played at this event, Festivity of Bands offers a notable learning opportunity for most DHS students. Junior band member Cliff Djajapranata hopes to learn from the methods of the senior musicians at the concert.
“It’s a great way for band members to learn from the other musicians, especially because we’ll be listening and playing with college-level ensembles,” Djajapranata said.
Senior band member Sabrina Williams notes the vast amount of preparation needed for the performance, rehearsing in class every day and preparing in sectionals after school once a week. She doesn’t complain, however, instead mentioning the chance to learn more expression through her music and expose herself to different ensembles, an invaluable window.
“We learn what they do differently so that we will be able to incorporate their techniques into our performances or practices,” Williams said. “It’s a way to compare ourselves and learn from each other.”
With the tight schedule, band members find it hard to cram in all the new music into the limited amount of time. To make use of every second, band director Tom Slabaugh doesn’t correct simple errors in musicality, instead focusing on the major flow of the group — how different instruments express their emotion through tone and delivery.
“We realize what we need to work on as an ensemble and what we need to work on individually,” Reyes said.
Many in Symphonic Band look forward to the Festivity with equal parts apprehension and eagerness. Junior band member Natalie Wheeler hopes the ensemble can reach its full potential and not disappoint.
“We want to put on the best performance we can, listening and learning from the college performers while applying it to our own playing,” Wheeler said.
The sound produced will be distinctive and fresh, and, mixed with the other bands, the music should create a new effect.
“Since we’ll be playing with different bands,” Kim said, “I’m excited for the unique full ensemble sound our band alone cannot create.”
For senior band member Eli Smith, the performance gives him a taste of what’s ahead, as college experience is just what most seniors are looking for at this time of the year.
“This event shows band members what you can expect later on down the road and what it really looks like to be a part of a college-level group,” Smith said, “It’s really a learning experience!”

Krystal Lau

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