The 2017/2018 Pacific Grove High School music program faced the seemingly detrimental loss of their long time director, Dave Hoffman, when he announced his resignation three years earlier than he had originally planned. Mr. Hoffman had suffered chronic back pain following a car accident, posing a serious challenge to someone who has to run a marching band. Thus, the band and orchestra programs of PGHS began their school year without a musical director. The future seemed glum for a program that relied on its director to teach, organize, and assist. However, another music director, previously the director of music at York School, Don Dally, selflessly stepped in to fill the gap left by Hoffman. The transition was made more seamless by the music students themselves, particularly by the Drum Major Mei Bailey, who led the band through marching season without the help of a marching veteran such as Mr. Hoffman. The cooperative effort of all of the members of the band, freshman and sophomore, is what enabled the program to survive and thrive the best it could: the upperclassmen assisted new students, making sure they knew how to play their part or instrument, and everyone proved patient enough and willing to work with Mr. Dally. Thus, the 2018 Winter Concert was the culmination of all of the effort every music student and their new director put forth and was symbolic of unity and proof of what can be accomplished when people prove willing to work together for a greater purpose.
The success of the concert reflected the successful of the program itself. The orchestra, though smaller in numbers, opened the concert beautifully. They began with Country Dance, a Bach-style piece with a pleasant melody. They also took a piece called “Chanson Triste” or sad song and played it allegro, thereby making it more “happy.” Another interesting song, and their final song, was called “Bluegrass County for String Orchestra.” This piece was fiddle-based, splitting the orchestra into sections, as they each attempted to “challenge” the others with their superior fiddling. The orchestra also decided to play it faster, rather than slower, to further push itself. Luckily for the orchestra, the piece was a phenomenal success.
Next, the band slowly gathered on the stage. A group easily almost three times are large as the orchestra began to take shape, slowing filling the air with warm tuning notes. The band began its portion of the concert with “Die Meistersinger; Excerpts from the Opera,” permeating the room with loud crisp chords. Not a single player played off beat during the final section of the piece, representing a clear internal victory for the members of the band. The band also played “Finale from The New World Symphony,” a long, arduous piece posing a serious challenge. However, the band prevailed as the last notes of the piece drifted away and resolved themselves peacefully. “River of the Ancients,” the band’s final piece out of six, featured the percussion section, as it used rainsticks, woodblocks, marimbas, wind chimes, and numerous drums to create a mysterious and ancient atmosphere. This piece, just like the others, was a great success for the band.
The 2018 Winter Concert resonated with the theme of unity and persistence. The students rallied together and the mutual dedication and respect between them and their conductor was evident by the beauty in the music and the camaraderie on the stage.