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Honor band brings together top student musicians

Posted: February 22, 2013 5:33 p.m.
Updated: February 22, 2013 5:33 p.m.

Click above to view the complete roster for the High School Honor Band.

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As local prep sports wrap up their winter competitions and look toward spring, student musicians in the Hart district get together for their own version of all-star teams — the junior high and senior high school honor bands.

To earn one of the coveted honor band spots, students audition and are tested on their abilities and techniques in front of a panel of judges. The highest scorers then earn one of the prized spots on the band.

About 800 students from the William S. Hart Union High School District and Castaic Middle School auditioned Feb. 1 and 2 for a place in the 32nd annual iteration of the bands, organizers estimated.

Those 800 were whittled down to a final roster of approximately 175 student musicians combined in junior high and high school.

For students of all grades, the honor band provides a benchmark to aspire to, said Jason Marshall, director of instrumental music at West Ranch High School.

“It’s another opportunity for them to get a great musical experience and showcase their talent,” Marshall said. “And for younger students, it’s a good goal for them as they improve.”

This year’s high school honor band features about 90 participants, Marshall said.

Randy Gilpin, band director at Rancho Pico Junior High School, said the band is like an “all-star team” for student musicians.

Gilpin has worked in the Hart district for as long as there has been an honor band. And after 32 years combined at Canyon High School and Rancho Pico, Gilpin says much about the band has changed, especially the level of participation.

“Back in the early years we didn’t even have enough people to play French horn in the band,” Gilpin said. “We had to twist the arms of a few trumpet players to fill out the section.”

This year there was no shortage of auditions for any instrument, Gilpin said.

Kathryn Spula, director of music at Placerita Junior High School, said the junior high honor band has close to 80 participants this year.

And, for the 25th consecutive year, Placerita has the largest group of participants in the junior high honor band, Spula said.

“That’s a goal we wish to achieve each year,” she added.

Along with the Hart district’s junior high schools, students from Castaic Middle School also participate in the band, Spula said.

After a series of practice sessions together, the bands perform a one-time-only concert that serves as both a performance and a recognition ceremony for graduating seniors and longtime band participants, Gilpin said.

This year’s concert will be held March 2 in the auditorium at Hart High School beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $12.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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