Over the last two weekends, Pacific Grove musicians travelled to locations across the central coast to participate in various CCS honor groups. The Breakers were well represented throughout all three groups — band, orchestra, and choir. Nearly thirty PGHS students were accepted into the program, and they joined other students from schools from as close as the local peninsula to as far as the Salinas valley.
The CCS program begins in October, when vocalists and instrumentalists audition for spots in either the band, orchestra, and choir. Once notified of acceptance, they receive their music and meet in January (for vocalists) or February (for instrumentalists) for a long weekend of rehearsals. The event culminates in a concert on the third day of the festival, which brings teachers, friends, parents, and students together to perform and listen to great music.
This year, the honor choir was hosted at Cabrillo College in Aptos, under the direction of Dr. Jenny Bent, who teaches at Sonoma State University. The choir performed pieces such as Wangol, a traditional Haitian song, and The Storm is Passing Over, a fast paced gospel with opportunity for solo improvisation.
The band and orchestra were both hosted at Hartnell College in Salinas. The band was conducted by Nathaniel Berman from University of California at Santa Cruz. The sixty-member ensemble played a variety of pieces, from the traditional Elsa by Richard Wagner, to the modern, avant garde Divertimento by Jindrich Feld. The orchestra was led by Dr. Fred Cohen from San Jose State University. They also played music ranging the centuries, from Schubert’s Dances, to the audience favorite Irish Tune from County Derry by Percy Grainger.
CCS is an experience not only for the musicians but for the audience members as well.
Max Afifi, a fellow student and musician who came to watch the band and orchestra concert last Saturday, commented, “I thought the band and orchestra were really good. I liked the orchestra’s rendition of Percy Grainger’s piece.” Jane Yang, another spectator, was inspired by “such musical talent and hard work.”
Some students have participated in CCS for years, such as senior Felix Diaz, who has
been accepted into the choir seven years and the band for six years. He is considered a “CCS veteran” by the many music teachers who have come to know him throughout the last seven years. “I’m glad I was given the opportunity to be in it for this long and I hope that it encourages other kids in the future to keep doing music like it did with me,” Felix says. He is proof of music’s ability to bring together people from different schools, histories, and talents to do what they love most.