Explosions of dark, foreboding sound filled Barnum Hall as the various Samo Concert Bands presented their concert, The Darker Side of Music, on Wednesday evening of Oct. 26 in honor of Halloween.
Unlike the conventional melodies of Bach and Tchaikovsky one would expect to hear at a classical band concert, the various bands played a far more mystifying and mysterious set to honor the beloved Pagan holiday: Halloween. Selections from Steven Sondheim’s 1970s Broadway musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street along with Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana set the mood for the night of music to come.
Originally, this concert was reserved for Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band, the two top ensembles. This year, however, Concert Band, which is divided into 3 different classes — Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion — also performed. According to Band Director Michael Corrigan, Concert Band did not have a full, official rehearsal until fifteen minutes before the concert itself.
“There aren’t too many bands that can pull of a concert like that in October … it’s pretty exciting that they accomplished that,” Director Terry Sakow said. “I think the students in general seem to be a lot more prepared and they also seem to be a lot more focused and just a lot more committed”.
Overall, the bands this year not only seem to be doing better, but are also performing much earlier. The marching band has received first place in the 3A band division at every competition they have performed in, and is also one of the first Viking Bands to compete as early as October. Band directors and students think the band program has recently become much more impassioned and committed, and if this upwards momentum continues in years to come, the bands could be very successful.
“Since we did so well with such a short amount of time to prepare I think that this whole year will be even better than last year,” Director of Bands Michael Corrigan said. “It will be a tough thing to follow, last year’s, because they got unanimous superiors out of every band. You can’t score any higher so that puts the pressure on these groups to match it.”
The “superior” ranking Corrigan is referring to is the placings given to each band that performs in the annual Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA) band festival which is held at Samo. A superior is the highest ranking a band can get and last year’s successful bands put a lot of pressure on the musicians for this year.
However, with the new format of the lower band classes, the band directors are confident about the progress of their students. According to Corrigan, each section of a band (woodwinds, brass and percussion) takes a different amount of time to become better on their instrument. The new classes isolate each section in order to provide more attention to each student.
“[The new band classes] allow us to work with them at their level and spend the entire class period working on their instruments rather than trying to split up the class period between the percussion, woodwinds and brass,” Corrigan said.
Overall, students and staff alike agreed the concert sounded great, and know the new system will allow the bands to improve even more.
“Last year we weren’t really ready,” junior Isley Brock, who is in the new percussion class, said. “We only had one rehearsal before the performance and we did really, really well. But I think [the performances] are going to get even better because this year is kind of an experimental year for years to come, but it’s probably going to get better and better because we are going to get more and more used to the way the classes are set up and it will end up sounding better.”