Kids Score Big Honor: Playing at Chandler Plaza

Members of Sycamore Junior High School’s advanced band had the jitters Friday morning, for good reason.

In a few hours, they would be the first school to perform before a concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the 32 seventh- and eighth-graders from Anaheim.


“I just hope I don’t mess up,” said clarinetist Daniel Felix, 14.

But band director Richard Elgas said his students “don’t know how good they can be. This proves to them that if we work together and work very hard, success will come.”

Over the last 28 years, Elgas has taken his band students to watch the Los Angeles Philharmonic and meet celebrity performers and conductors. But this is the first year any band has been invited to play in the pavilion plaza before the concert, Elgas said.

“This has never been done before, but maybe we’re the one that’s going to start this. Schools need this.”

Sycamore Principal Denise Selbe credited Elgas and his dedication to teaching for the school’s selection.

“Sometimes we only hear the negative things. But the things going on in schools are very positive, and it’s nice the kids get this kind of attention.”

During the last school year, the band members have given numerous concerts on campus and at the Anaheim Hilton and Towers hotel and Knott’s Berry Farm. The students also play under college conductors at Cal State Fullerton.

Students said that besides being fun, being involved in band teaches them discipline, maturity and a sense of accomplishment.

“What we learn here,” 13-year-old flutist Judy Nguyen said, “is never to give up.”