Duffy Featured in Pops Concert


English teacher Thomas Duffy performs with the Orchastra during the “Pops” Concert. The concert included performances by the Jazz Band, Orchestra, and the Symphonic Band.

Sarada Symonds, Editor-in-Chief

This year’s Band “Pops” Concert lived up to its name, featuring songs associated with pop culture icons, including the film franchise Star Wars and singer Lady Gaga. Under the guidance of music teacher Johnny Johnson, the concert was held on October 7, and included performances by the Jazz Band, Orchestra, and Symphonic Band, as well as a guest performance by English teacher Thomas Duffy.

The night began with the Jazz Band, which played 5 songs in total: “Pennywishes” by Lennie Niehaus, “Cantina Band” from Star Wars by John Williams, “Riverside Drive” by Tom Wolfe, “Buckethead Shuffle” by Tony Guerrero, and “Meltdown” by Mark Taylor.

Senior Newton Kwan played the soprano and alto saxophone, senior Kevin Schori played the tenor saxophone, senior Grant Smith played the trumpet, and senior Connor Cronin played the guitar during various featured solos throughout the evening.

The jazz selections included songs from a variety of music styles, such as “Buckethead Shuffle,” a swing dance, and Meltdown, a funk number. “I think it’s important to mix up the different styles for the audience’s interest, as well as, when you’re in a Jazz group, you need to know all of these styles and know how to play them,” said Johnson. “Exposure of all those style to the students is a part of the curriculum.”

Following the Jazz band, Orchestra performed “Palladio” by Karl Jenkins, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, “Lady Gaga Fugue” by Larry Moore, and “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix. Senior Rachel Liao had a solo during “Palladio.”  Juniors Martha Bartchy and Andrew Wang were also soloists for this set.

During Purple Haze, Duffy joined in for a guitar solo. According to Johnson, performing with Duffy was great. “He’s such a good guy and easy to work with. He’s eager to learn and get better, so it was a real treat,” he said. Duffy started working with the students about two weeks before the concert. Orchestra member Jackie Redinger said, “I really liked working with Mr. Duffy. He’s really great.”

Duffy has played the guitar for 8 years, and started performing in public 3 years ago. “You really can teach an old dog new tricks,” he said. Duffy felt that the performance was fantastic. “I was honored to share the stage with so many great musicians. I had so much fun, and forced myself to stretch and learn,” he said.

According to Duffy, both the Campolindo music program and Johnson “rock.”

After “Purple Haze,” some students remained onstage to perform while other performers set up for the next song. Junior Kourosh Arastuh played bass, sophomore Eli Kromeyer played drums, and Cronin played guitar. The group had to meet at lunch to practice, according to Kromeyer.

The night concluded with a theatrical performance of “Cave of the Winds” by Russell Peck, which began with the auditorium completely dark. Johnson introduced the piece by reading an excerpt from the sheet music: “In the Cave there is no sunlight… All music is by feel.”

Members of the band wore sunglasses and all black clothing. Lighting was used to focus on particular instrumentation, such as the single blue limelight that focused on a lone drummer. Johnson said, “it’s fun to play things that are different from traditional concert band literature. We don’t often get to move around and dance, and use smoke and lights, and do theatrical productions like that.”

Due to renovations in the band’s traditional rehearsal room, they are holding class in the CPAC, which allows them more time to work on parts of the performance like choreography and lighting. “If we were in the rehearsal room, and had to come in here three days and put it together, it would be much, much more difficult,” Johnson said.

Junior Morgan Matranga, who played the flute, thought that the performance of “The Cave” was excellent. According to Matranga, the piece was really hard to rehearse. “We had to do it without chairs. We came up with all the choreography, but it still turned out really good, and it was a lot of fun,” she said.

According to Johnson, the piece took a month to prepare. Ross Wilson was in charge of sound, and David Pinkham was in charge of lighting, which was the most difficult part. Pinkham did most of the lighting effects, including placement, colors, dimming, and timing. “To program all that, and to get it to work at the right time, is a lot of work, so we really appreciate it,” said Johnson.

“As the year goes on, we play more serious literature, so to play something more familiar, off the beaten track, is fun for them,” he said. The concert only happens once a year, about a month after school starts. “It gets us all going at the beginning,” said Johnson.

Orchestra member Jackie Redinger thought that the performances were very good. “I really enjoyed listening to the other groups,” she said. According to Redinger, the group has been preparing since the second week of school, when the students received their music. Students prepared during class, but groups also met during lunch and after school to practice.

Senior Elyssa Campo came to the concert to see her friends perform. “I think they did a great job, and it was really fun to watch,” she said. She particularly enjoyed “Lady Gaga Fugue” because it wove in the theme from Gaga’s song “Bad Romance.”

Parent Kim Stevens felt that it was “the best pops concert ever.” According to her, the concert was “truly unique, innovated, and contemporary,” and “really exposed kids to different types of music.” Stevens also organized a potluck before the concert for all the families in band.

The bands will now move on to more official curriculum, according to Johnson. Symphonic Band will be traveling to Los Angeles on November 9 to play for the Veteran’s Home of West Los Angeles.