The audience settles down in Paly’s recently constructed Performing Arts Center (PAC) as a harmonious note fills the air, exuding a euphonic atmosphere. When the crowd grows silent, the band springs into life and its melody reverberates around the room.
On Nov. 15, Palo Alto High School’s Band hosted its annual joint concert with Jordan Middle School’s Symphonic Band for the first time in the PAC. Over the course of the past month, the two bands have collaborated to practice pieces that were featured in the Paly-Jordan Band Festival.
According to Paly Band and Orchestra director Jeff Willner, the festival has been held each year ever since he started teaching at Paly. In previous years, the Paly-Jordan Band Festival took place at Jordan Middle School or Gunn High School, which created inconveniences for both bands.
“Before, we had to cart all of our [equipment] over to Gunn or set up at Jordan because we had no room in the Haymarket to fit everybody,” Willner said. “Now, all we have to do is walk outside the band room and bring our chairs, set up and play.”
At the concert, Paly and Jordan band performed a joint piece, “1812 Overture,” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. In addition, the Paly band played a repertoire of advanced pieces, including “Flourish for Wind Band” by Ralph Vaughan Williams and the first movement of “Suite of Old American Dances” by Robert Russell Bennett.
According to junior clarinetist Preston Sterling, the togetherness within sections specific to each instrument has always been the band’s forte, but he felt that the communication among the entire band needed more improvement.
However, in “Suite of Old American Dances,” Sterling felt that they effectively refined their group’s cohesion and delivered an appealing performance.
“We sounded more together as one entity and did a better job of blending,” Sterling said. “In the individual pieces, the freshmen and eighth graders played well and I think they will be a great contribution to our band in the following years.”
Due to the discrepancy between Paly and Jordan’s school schedules, both bands only had a short amount of time to rehearse together. However, they managed to pull off a cohesive performance due to their efficient rehearsals.
Overall, Willner felt that performing in the PAC was a major contribution to their successful concert.
“The acoustics in [the PAC] are better compared to in the Haymarket theater, where we couldn’t hear each other very well,” Willner said. “It’s also visually a nice place for everybody to hang out and listen to our music.”
“We sounded more together as one entity and did a better job of blending. In the individual pieces, the freshman and eighth graders played well and I think they will be a great contribution to our band in the following years.”
Willner highly encourages everyone to attend the music program’s future performances, as they continue not to disappoint.
“Even if you don’t have a brother or sister, boyfriend or girlfriend, you should come out to all of our music concerts because there’s no way you’ll have a bad time,” Willner said.