Spring Concert has audience ‘Hooked on a Feeling’

The final concert of the season brings together the CHS and CMS bands for a celebration of their growth and achievements during the 2021-22 school year


J. Dollins

The Colton High Wind Ensemble performs “Blue Ridge Saga” at the Spring Concert.

Grand Terrace, CA—Featuring the combined talents of the different musical ensembles at Colton High and Colton Middle School, the 2022 Spring Band Concert filled Grand Terrace’s theater on Tuesday night with the joyful expressions of spring.

The two-hour plus program treated audiences to a wide range of musical styles, from the traditional ranchera stylings of the Colton Middle Mariachi Band to the swingin’ progressions of Colton High’s Jazz Band to the pop-rock arrangements of the CHS Wind Ensemble. Along the way, the promoting 8th graders and graduating seniors were celebrated and honored by their band directors and families.

The night began with a new addition to the musical program at Colton Middle, the CMS Mariachi Band. Comprised of young musicians new to the genre, they got the audience to sing-along to a traditional ranchera number, “Árboles de la Barranca.”

“A couple years ago, I noticed a lot of my kids being apprehensive towards celebrating their culture,” said CMS band director Caitlin Curran. “When I went to school for music, we were told our job as musicians was to bring music authentically to other people . . . The best kind of music in music education comes from teaching kids through the songs they grew up listening to. So, in my community, that’s mariachi music.”

After the rousing ranchera, the CMS intermediate band showed off their range of talent with two numbers, “Chesapeake Serenade” by Brian Balmages and “Navarro” by Robert W. Smith. On “Navarro,” 7th grade students Nicolas Valtierra and Serenity Villegas brought their best to the mariachi-styled trumpet solos at the start of the performance.

Then Colton’s Jazz Band set up on stage and entertained everyone with two swing numbers, “I’m Beginning the See the Light,” the classic Duke Ellington song, and Erik Morales’s “Out of the Doghouse.” Several players got their spotlight during the set, with Marcos Juarez shining on trumpet during “Light” and Kevin Gonzalez tickling the keys like a mad man during “Doghouse.”

“I felt like I did it with passion,” said Kevin Gonzalez. “It just takes passion and dedication just to play something that you love, just playing by heart.”

Colton Middle’s advanced band continued the show with “The Rowan Tree,” a traditional Scottish folk song, featuring Keana and Valarie Pacheco on flute; and the evocative, dramatic “Cha’La Dance of the Volcano Goddess,” which tells the story of a sleeping volcano goddess who awakens once a century.

The show concluded with a three song set by Colton High’s Wind Ensemble. Their set began with “Blue Ridge Saga,” a piece by James Swearingen that “reflects on the beauty and history of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.” The complex piece showed off the wide range of skills in the ensemble, especially that of Isaac Gonzalez on trumpet and Victor Vasquez on snare drum.

The second piece lived up to its name. “In a Gentle Rain” began with the band evoking the sounds of rain with finger snaps before Kevin Gonzalez brought them together with his piano melody. The piece culminated with two solos by clarinet players Nate Ramirez and Brooke Carlson, who both took center stage.

The night ended with the uptempo pop-rock medley of songs from the Marvel Studios’ film “Guardians of the Galaxy,” based on an arrangement by Michael Brown. The medley included melodies from the film’s score combined with a mix of soundtrack songs, like “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Come and Get Your Love,” “Cherry Bomb,” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Aleczander Aguayo’s drumming set the tempo, and he showed off his versatile playing by nailing multiple rhythms throughout the medley.

CHS Band Director Kenneth Taber was incredibly proud of his students. “I felt like it was the best performance we’ve put on.”

The night was an emotional one as the band said goodbye to its 10 seniors: Aleczander Aguayo, Natalie Caceres, Brooke Carlson, Bryan Flores, Kevin Gonzalez, Kyree Lara, Arturo Morelos, Stephanie Perez, Helena Ramirez, and Nate Ramirez. They were honored between the second and final numbers during the wind ensemble’s performance.

“I am so sad,” Nate Ramirez said. “Nine years. Nine years of band. Same instrument. Nine years. Crazy.”

Helena Ramirez was excited she got to experience this moment with her friends in the band. “I’ve spent four years with these people,” she said. “Even with COVID happening, we still talked to each other during that time, so it’s nice for us being back with everyone and getting emotional that it’s our very last one.”

For the last show of their senior years, this was one to remember.