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Bruin Gym Plays Host To RHS Winter Concert
Alto saxophonist Lizbeth Ramos plays along with the RHS woodwind section in the Dec. 6 concert. Ramos is one of four Riverbank band members to be selected to perform with the 2019 Stanislaus County Music Education Association Honor Band in January.News Photos By Ric McGinnis
The brass group is one of several sections of the RHS concert band, this one made up of trombones, a baritone and a tuba. They are shown performing at the Dec. 6 Winter Concert program. News Photos By Ric McGinnis

The Riverbank High School Music Department hosted its Sixth Annual Winter Concert on Thursday, Dec. 6, but not where it usually is held.

A change in the varsity girls basketball schedule required their use of the Ray Fauria Memorial Gymnasium for a non-league, preseason game where they hosted the Lady Red Devils of Mt. Diablo High School of Concord. It originally appeared as an away game on the published schedule.

Nonetheless, seasonal sounds echoed throughout the Bruin gym that evening, where the concert was moved to and then proceeded as planned.

It was, however, a somewhat subdued concert. RHS Music Director Joey Aguilar explained to the crowd that his guitar classes, usually performing on the program, don’t have enough guitars to go around to all the students in the class, so they weren’t able to take a turn on stage. In addition, he said, the beginning band, also usually on the program, could not perform since many of their instruments had just returned three weeks before from the repair shop.

He also noted that there are not any choir classes this year, so only the Bruin Concert Band performed.

They started the evening in somewhat of a marching band configuration, with all the percussionists lined up across the back of the band. Their first two pieces were “Sub-Sonic”, by Cassidy Byars and “T’was the Parade Before Christmas” arranged by Dallas Burke. Aguilar pointed out that these were the pieces the Bruin Marching Band had played during the recent Christmas Parade in downtown Riverbank.

The group reconfigured to the Concert Band mode once again, with those ‘street’ drummers becoming members of the large percussion section. They traded their bass, snare and tom-tom drums for timpani, triangles, marimbas, bells, even a complete drum set.

Next on the program was a piece with some little known history behind it that Aguilar shared with his audience.

He said the music that became the “Liberty Bell March,” composed by John Philip Sousa, the March King, was originally written for a Christmas opera. He said the production was abandoned and Sousa reworked the tune as a present for his wife. He noted that the music was soon published and has been a popular seller ever since.

The next piece was “Quixotic Episode” by Robert Sheldon, followed by “If Thou Be Near,” a baroque piece originally composed by J.S. Bach. It was arranged for concert band by Alfred Reed. The program concluded with “The Christmas Song,” arranged by Frank D. Cofield.

During the program, Aguilar introduced the four student musicians who have been selected to perform with the 2019 Stanislaus County Honor Band concert in January at Modesto Junior College.

They include first year Honor Band members Lizbeth Ramos, on alto saxophone, Dolores Navarro, on flute, and Brenden Hetzler, on clarinet. Trombonist Jenise Perryman has been selected for the fourth year in a row.

Aguilar pointed out to the audience that it was the first time four RHS musicians have been selected. He noted that much larger high school bands in the area, like Beyer High in Modesto, or Turlock High or Pitman High in Turlock, usually place 20 to 25 players, so he felt Riverbank’s showing was praiseworthy.

The high school’s 32-piece concert band will return to the stage for a Spring Concert in 2019.

And … concertgoers who wanted to catch the end of the girls basketball game in the nearby Fauria Gymnasium on Thursday evening after the concert were able to do so.