Band and Orchestra Concert put on an emotional set of performances

Bianca Martinez

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A cacophony of excited parental chatter intermingled with the undeniable sound of instruments being tuned and musicians warming up as Cerritos Student Center was home to a musical showcase Tuesday March 21.

The showcase better known as the Exchange Concert featured the musical prowess of local district band programs, these local schools being not only Cerritos College, but Bellflower Middle School and Bellflower High School as well.

Neat rows of seats replaced the usual chairs and round tables which occupied the ample space of the student center.

Proud fathers and excited mothers hit record on their cellphones as their middle schoolers, conducted by Omar Vidana, conductor of the Bellflower Middle School Junior Concert Band, led them into the commencement of their first musical piece of the evening.

The audience, however, was not disappointed to discover that the students play exceptionally well.

The middle schoolers hard work and dedication resonating clearly and flawlessly as they played their first piece, Northpointe Fantasy.

The students were rhythmic and on cue throughout the performance of their first piece.

When their five minute piece ended, Vidana addressed the audience, made up predominantly of parents, and expressed how proud he was of his students and discussed the effort his students put into each piece.

Vidana then took the time during his brief speech about himself and the school band program to introduce Student Teacher Conductor Denise Martinez, who worked alongside Vidana during the concert band season.

Martinez was then entrusted to conduct the Junior band for the duration of their set.

The same level of expertise which was exhibited in their first piece still reigned true throughout the Junior band’s second piece, Canon of Peace.

This piece showcased the talent of the wind section as this piece encompassed the airy yet lively sounds of flutes and clarinets alongside the occasional calculated hit of a triangle.

The tone of the set changed however as Martinez led them into their final piece of the night, Furioso.

This piece, with its war march quality, was in vivid contrast to subtle, light heartedness of Canon of Peace.

The wind section was a minor player as hearty blows to a large bass drum rang throughout the student center against the fury of the brass section which closely followed the instruction of Martinez, whose thin physique moved as passionately and concise as that of a seasoned conductor.

After 15 minutes of waiting for the Junior band to finish their set, it was the Bellflower High School Symphonic Winds time to shine.

Following a brief warm-up, the high school band proceeded to show the audience what they are made of as they provided a strikingly melodious first piece, Fanfare and Flourishes.

Flourishes indeed, as the band took heed of Vidana’s every cue.

The brass section reigning supreme as it took center stage in this piece, with percussion playing supporting role.

Finishing their first piece with a solid, strong ending, Vidana then changed course to that of a more solemn path.

Vidana introduces the high school band’s next piece by explaining the influence of his late grandmother and recent passing of alumni color guard member, Michelle Lopez, motivated this self-revised version of O Magnum Mysterium.

Vidana, clearly emotional as he led his high schoolers in their second piece.

Within this piece there was a tone of both solemnness and optimism, a musical interpretation of heartbreak.

Vidana’s movements, graceful and somber as those of a classically trained ballerina, conveyed the emotional impact of this piece.

Unfortunately despite how well conducted this piece was, it managed to peter out into a shaky finish, which was contributed by the brass section.

However, the last two pieces of the high school band’s set counteracted this mishap by altering the somber atmosphere left in the wake of Vidana’s rendition of O Magnum Mysterium

Their last two pieces, Toccata for Band and Chant and Jubilo, cast an air of vibrancy and jubilance due to its flawless execution by the Bellflower High School Symphonic Winds.

There was then a five minute intermission as the High school band cleared of the stage to make way for the Cerritos College Concert Band conducted by Director of Bands and Orchestra David Betancourt.

The band’s first piece started of with a clash of symbols as the audience felt their were part of an epic adventure with the tone this piece set with its movie soundtrack quality.

The Cerritos band had more in store for the audience however after the successful conclusion of their first piece.

Batencourt was enthusiastic when he announced the band’s second and final piece of the program, a 22 minute long arrangement of three individually titled concert pieces under the initial show title of La Fiesta Mexicana.

The first chapter of the arrangement, Prelude and Aztec Dance, started lively enough with brilliant percussion led by student and percussion member Noah Osterhoudt.

After a few moments, however, the lively piece suddenly trickled slowly and subtly ending with drums and flutes being played in a distinctive indigenous sounding manner.

The second piece of this arrangement, Mass, was nothing to write home about as the audience fidgeted restlessly in their seats at this piece’s slow pace despite how expertly played it was by the college band.

This pace, after a couple of minutes, was disrupted by a hearty grito uttered from one of the brass players as the piece, Carnival, began with a well executed French horn solo.

The piece, wonderfully played, was reminiscent of mariachi music as the brass section took the spotlight in the piece showcasing the distinct sounds present in traditional Mexican folk songs.

One could just envision the vibrant, bold colors of skirts twirling as boots and heels kicked and stomped in time with this piece.

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