Honor Band Features “Best of Best”

Genie Lee, Lifestyle Editor

10 Cougars participated in the Contra Costa Honor Band, which featured 80 of the best musicians from 15 high schools in the Contra Costa County, on February 2 at San Ramon Valley High School.

In December, the musicians auditioned for a spot in the honor band by performing scales, sight-reading, and an excerpt from a song of their choice in front of a judge.

Honor band members met their guest conductor, California State University East Bay music professor Dr. Danielle Gaudry, for the 1st time just 2 days before the event.

“It was really cool to be able to talk to an established musician and conductor and teacher, just to see someone who works in the field of music,” said flute player and 3-year veteran of the honor band, senior Carissa Zhu.

Music teacher Johnny Johnson said, “[Gaudry] was terrific. I knew of her but hadn’t really had the chance to get to know her and watch her work and she’s wonderful. I really enjoyed watching her work and I learned a lot from her.”

The band performed “Early Light” by Carolyn Bremer, “Diamond Tide” by Viet Cuong, and “Gives us this Day” by David Maslanka in front of an audience of friends and family. “It was phenomenal. Every year it’s great, but our clinician chose repertoire that really had an emotional connection with the students in the group this year,” said Johnson.

Some of the pieces included novel twists. “Diamond Tide” featured percussion equipment that was dipped into water to bend pitch and glasses filled with water and hit with chopsticks.

“The pieces were very fun, some of the best ones I’ve played. Every 1 of them was intriguing and it was fun to be a part of all of it,” said french horn player junior Michael Evans.

Evans added that the prestigious environment of the honor band reminded him of “being in an AP class here at school where everyone around you is the best of the best and they all know what you’re doing,” he said.

“It was a really good experience, just being able to play harder music with more serious musicians. It was a nice experience and I learned a lot from the guest conductor,” said Zhu.