Concert was challenging but mostly 'fun'

The Huntington Beach Union High School District presented its 28th annual Honor Band Concert on Feb. 7 in the auditorium at Huntington Beach High School.

Guest Conductor Larry G. Curtis, a distinguished educator and professional conductor with a 25-year tenure as Conductor of Bands at Cal State Long Beach, directed the honor band through the rousing "Captain America March" by Alan Silvestri, an emotional Bacchanal by Camille Saint-Sains, the beautiful folk ballad "Shenandoah" by Frank Ticheli, a jazzy "New York: 1927" by Warren Barker and a lively arrangement of "Le Can," arranged by Ken Whitcomb, a long-time Disney staff arranger who worked for the park and studios for many years.

Curtis expressed his pleasure in directing the honor band this year.

"I can't think of any honor band that I've enjoyed working with more than this one," he said.

He added that these high school musicians really had to "stretch themselves with a variety of music," referring to the musical program that was performed.

The high school band directors expressed pride in their students and described the concert as a unique learning experience.

Serena Chen, who plays the oboe at Edison High School, said she liked "meeting people from the different schools, and it was a fun experience."

Tim Benge, the band director at Edison High School, explained that the 96 honor band musicians from the six major high schools in the school district first had to audition to be included in the honor band, and then they had only about 12 hours to prepare for the concert including one six-hour practice session only two days prior to the event.

He described the musicians' desire to share in the ideals of musicality and artistry and to get a glimpse of advanced musicianship that they don't find in their high school bands.

But the student musicians themselves mostly described the honor band concert experience as fun.

Heng-Yi Liu, a clarinet player from Fountain Valley High School, agreed.

"It was fun meeting different people from other schools," she said.

Horn player Alex Hitomi from Edison High School described the concert as a "good experience outside of high school.

"We were able to get out and meet people from other schools and to step-up musically. These are really talented individuals," he said. "But it was mostly fun."

SUSAN DAVIS is a member of the Edison High School band boosters. Her daughter is a junior at the school and a member of color guard.

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