RUHS Band holds first indoor concert in two years

The spring “Festival Concert” is a new, perhaps temporary addition to the annual set of concerts put on by band


RUHS band performing inside the auditorium for the first time in two years. Photo by Dale Kaplan

It took a long time, but the RUHS band’s “Spring Festival Concert,” held its first indoor concert in two years on April 18.

Originally scheduled for December of 2021 as a holiday concert, the concert was first postponed because of rain. Then, it was pushed to March and became the “Festival Concert,” but Director Raymundo Vizcarra got sick and the concert was again postponed. Finally, despite many setbacks, the concert happened and adopted a spring theme.

“I’m just glad we actually got to have an indoor concert this year,” Vizcarra said.

Three of the RUHS bands performed: Symphonic Band, a predominantly freshman band, Concert Band, which is Marching Band during the off-season and Wind Ensemble, the higher-level band.

During a typical year, the RUHS Band usually does a holiday concert in December and the Pops Concert, which occurs in May. The “Festival Concert” is a new, perhaps temporary addition to the annual concert list as it was created as the band still wanted to perform in some way.

Junior Shreya Wunnava, Baritone Saxophone section leader in both Wind Ensemble and Concert Band and Tri-M club Vice President of Operations, was left feeling “blue” by the postponements.

“I personally felt really sad. I felt a lot for everybody in band collectively because being in an ensemble is a team effort. Everybody has been pulling their weight and for us to not be able to showcase that, was really sad because we just wanted to show how much work everyone has been putting in,” Wunnava said.

The songs the three bands performed at the concert were also played at festival competitions. At these festival competitions, the three bands play their music and get their performances rated by judges. According to Vizcarra, the concert was supposed to happen before their first festival competition in March, so their music would be “beyond ready.” But the rescheduling of the concert didn’t allow that. The three bands started preparing their music in January in order to be ready for festival season, which was from mid-March to mid-April, and eventually for the concert.

If the concert had happened before festival season, Vizcarra claims that the band would have been “okay, but not as stellar as it is now.”

One of the songs the Concert Band performed at both competitions and the concert was  “Mekong,” by Robert W. Smith which tributes and retells stories of the Vietnam War.  In each aisle of the audience section, there was a student equipped with bass drum heads and drumsticks to create a helicopter sound effect. An ocean drum was used for water effects and an Indonesian angklung was used for traditional musical sounds from that region.

One of the main reasons Vizcarra chose to perform “Mekong” was because it was originally meant to be played in 2020 and Vizcarra wanted to bring it back and have the band finally play it on stage. Additionally, he had already purchased a lot of the necessary equipment for the song which he “really wanted to use.”

“I was really excited to hear it performed because it’s such a great piece and it’s so fun. It really immerces the audience into the storyline with the sound of the helicopter traveling in the audience,” Vizcarra said.

Senior Elisa Switzer is the bass clarinet section leader and Tri-M club’s Vice President of Events is in both Concert Band and Wind Ensemble.  She most enjoyed playing Wind Ensemble’s last two songs, “Choreography,” by Robert Sheldon and “Zeus: King of the Gods,” by Rob Romeyn.

“They were some of the more challenging pieces that we played. I tend to like the songs we play for Wind Ensemble more than the Concert Band songs because it’s more difficult and challenging, so it’s more fun to play,” Switzer said.

Junior Jessica Kaplan is in both Concert Band and Wind Ensemble and section leads the trumpets. She was happy because it was a chance to show the parents stuff that the band has been doing because “other than marching season, they haven’t really heard any of our concert music yet,” she said.

Like the process of rehearsing, the general scheduling process was a bit of a “hectic” one, according to Wunnava.

The Tri-M Club, RUHS’ chapter of the Tri-M National Music Honor Society, primarily organized the concert. The club works with the executive branch of marching band and the booster board, made up mostly of parents who help with ticket sales, the silent auction and concessions.

Wunnava, being the Vice President of Operations, assisted the president in getting things organized for the concert and gathered volunteers. Before call time, they set up the chairs, assist Vizcarra and help the parents. After the concert, they packed up chairs and brought them back to the band room and cleaned the auditorium. 

Wunnava claims that the students, parents and band staff alike all play important roles and put in much effort to put together concerts.

“It’s not just Tri-M,” Wunnava said. “Throughout the concert and just in preparation for the concert really, the students within the ensembles truly do a lot to pitch in. It’s a big team effort.”