Winter Concerts Feature Guest Performers

Amanda Young, Staff Writer

Mike Vax, an international artist for the Warburton Company and Summit Records recording musician, joined Concert and Symphonic Bands at their annual Winter Concert in the CPAC on February 22.

Vax and senior Keven Deng played trumpet on “Concerto for Two Trumpets in C Major” by Antonio Vivaldi. Vax also performed a trumpet solo to Vincent Bach’s “Hungarian Melodies.”

The band concert also featured a variety of classical pieces, from “The Prelude” and “Fugue in B-flat Major” by Johann Sebastian Bach to Vincent Persichetti’s “Symphony No. 6 (for Band), Op. 69.”

Band teacher Johnny Johnson said students started preparing for the performance in November, after the Fall Concert. However, he arranged for the guest artists to come long before. “I’ve known Mike Vax for a long time and we’ve been talking about his coming to play with us so I ran into him at a conference in December 2016 and we arranged for this date in February 2018,” he said.

For students who also participate in the morning Jazz Band, this concert offered a different style of performance.

“I play both [classical and jazz]…but it’s just a different kind of music and a different kind of feel. It’s definitely not swing, like jazz. There’s not as much of a range of instruments in jazz traditionally so [classical is] cool because everyone has their own specific part,” said freshman Ellie Olson, a member of the Big Band and Concert Band.

Deng is also part of the jazz band and said that the styles of jazz and classical music are very different. “With jazz you can have a little more leeway and there are different parts of the music. But, for classical, it’s definitely all about the older style of traditional music,” Deng said, “The thing that really amazes me about this guest performer is that he mainly plays jazz music but is also able to have good classical style.”

Although Deng played a solo with Vax, neither of them had actually met until the day of the concert. “We had 1 rehearsal in the morning during our 1st period, so like an hour of rehearsal and then we just played in the concert. But, I know this guest performer and he’s famous in the jazz world especially, so I listened to some of his albums to get used to his style and some of his classical works as well. He actually recorded the piece we played together, so I listened to that,” Deng explained.

Both Deng and Johnson agreed that working with guest artists is beneficial to the students. “When the guest artist is a top level professional, the students rise to the [occasion] so that’s always great, to see that,” Johnson said. 

Deng added, “I think that working with guest artists really allows me as a student and a as performer who’s still learning about music to see the upper end of the spectrum and what the high caliber music looks like. It’s especially great when they’re able to work with us and play with us because then it sets the expectation for us and allows us to play with really strong players and in doing that it gives us the experience that can advance us further.”

The Orchestra Concert held on February 14 featured a guest performance by Jeremy Cohen and Quartet San Francisco.

“Jeremy Cohen and I have also been talking for a little over a year about doing that, so we picked this date. He had a piece for us to play and it was a great time,” said Johnson. 


“It was a nice experience getting both of those professional groups to come work with our high school band; to really play a high level of music and get that exchange in professionals and students,” said Deng.