Honor Band Selects 10 Campolindo Musicians

Gracie Woidat, Staff Writer

10 members of Campolindo’s instrumental music program have been selected for the Contra Costa Honor Band after auditions were held on December 1. 

“It is the greatest thing to see students go beyond the classroom and be able to play in a higher level group,” said Campolindo instrumental music director Johnny Johnson. “The fact that they represented Campo so well in the caliber that they did is so rewarding for a teacher.”

Several Campo students, such as senior tuba player Adriana Derksen, managed to make 1st chair, which is the lead for their instrument section. 

According to Derksen, her main competition for the position was another student from Las Lomas. “I definitely was excited to be first chair, especially because I know a lot of the other tuba players who auditioned so it’s kind of fun to have that friendly competition,” she said. 

The youngest student to make 1st chair was freshman french horn player Amrita Malhotra. “Going into it I was pretty nervous because it was my first audition, and honestly I didn’t really think I would get 1st chair,” she said. Malhotra is excited to be 1st chair because “you get to be the leader of a section, and you get the best parts to play.”

A change from previous years, the auditions this year were “blind.” While the judges could hear candidates auditioning, they could not see the candidates. Likewise, the candidates could not see the judges.

“It was a lot more stressful because of their decision to make the audition silent, and the judges were all behind closed doors, so you couldn’t see what was going on,” said sophomore Connor Johnson. “I felt a lot more comfortable last year because they would talk to me and stuff, and I could get an idea of what they thought of me.”

Yet some appreciated the attempt to eliminate bias. According to sophomore Corbin Strong, gender equity has been an issue in the past, in addition to teachers favoring their own students. “A blind audition forces the judges to make their decisions off of talent and sound, not the person,” said Strong.

According to Strong, Diablo Wind Symphony musicians have taken “up 1/3 of the Contra Costa Honors Band” in the past.

The director of the Diablo Wind Symphony is 1 of the judges for the Honor Band. “If it was not a blind audition it would be biased when picking who would join the county bands,” said Strong.

Johnson said the decision to make the auditions blind was “to be more fair across the spectrum of all the instruments.”

The new format also required that each instrument be judged by 2 different people. “We’re human beings, we hear different things at different times, and this way judges can collaborate to make rankings more fair and accurate,” said Johnson.

The musicians who were selected to play in the band were given new music immediately following the audition in order to begin preparation for their concert, which will take place the first week in February. However, the band will only have rehearsals a few days before the concert.

“It’s definitely stressful because we have the music already, but if you learn it wrong now then you only have 2 days to fix it before the concert, which can be extremely difficult,” said Derksen.