ONCE IN A LIFETIME
Come next year, the Dos Pueblos High School Concert Band will accomplish a fist-time feat when its 92 members walk onto the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York City to perform in the 2020 New York Wind Band Festival.
The band is one of six high school bands chosen to perform at the festival on March 10, 2020, and were selected from an audition tape the group submitted last year.
The tape captured one of the band’s performances at the Santa Barbara City College String and Wind festival as it performed John Barnes Chance’s “Incantation and Dance” and John Mackey’s “Night on Fire,” a performance that band director Dan Garske said earned his band a “near perfect score” from the festival’s adjudicators.
Though still several months away, Mr. Garske is already rehearsing the ensemble. As a matter of fact, this year marks the first time concert band is held during both the fall and spring semesters. In past years, it has only been offered during the latter. When asked if this change has anything to do with the band getting chosen for the festival, the band director retorted that it has everything to do with it.
“Absolutely. I wanted to start getting ready for this performance early,” he said.
Instead of repeating the songs they played in the audition tape for the New York performance, the band will play renditions of “Joyride” by Michael Markowski, “Four: On a Remix of Beethoven” by Randall Standridge and John Mackey’s yet-to-be published “Liminal.”
At festivals, the band gets judged based on how good it sounds, so they could theoretically get an exceptional score from adjudicators by playing simple songs.
However, Mr. Garske told the News-Press he selected these composers’ charts because they would challenge his students.
“They are new contemporary composers for concert band and they’re writing really challenging, fun new music to play,” he said.
Because Mr. Mackey’s “Liminal” hasn’t yet been published, the Dos Pueblos concert band is required to pay royalties whenever it plays the song in concerts. Mr. Garske singled out this tune as particularly hard to play.
“We’ve never played anything of that difficulty before,” he said.
The band director’s excitement for playing at Carnegie Hall is shared by his students. 16-year-old Dos Pueblos junior Isaak Meyerovich has been in concert band for all of his high school years thus far and was enthusiastic when asked if he is looking forward to playing in New York.
“Heck yeah. It’s going to be super awesome,” he said.
That said, when asked if it’s nerve-wracking he admitted, “Yeah. It’s a little scary.”
Besides auditioning for 90 minutes on Thursdays and an hour every other weekday, the band has to raise $193,000 in order to send all 92 kids to New York. The band recently concluded a mattress sale and will continue to hold multiple fundraisers to meet that high amount, according to Mr. Garske. Through this and family donations, the director is optimistic the band will reach its goal.
“I think we’re on our way,” he said.
Before traveling to New York, the band will play some of the festival songs locally, first at its holiday concerts on Dec. 12-13. Shortly before the band’s departure to New York, the ensemble will perform a sendoff concert on Feb. 27, 2020.