The talented young musicians at both Riverbank High School and Cardozo Middle School performed winter concerts for family, friends, and staff bringing holiday cheer to all that attended last week.
The Riverbank High School (RHS) Winter Concert was held in the Bruin Gym on the evening of Dec. 12 where the Beginner Guitar group, Riverbank Choir, Beginner Band, and Concert Band performed several arrangements led by Music Director Joey Aguilar.
“All groups did very well,” said Aguilar. “Most were nervous as it was their first time performing in front of people but they all handled it well and now they look forward to doing more concerts.”
Cardozo Middle School (CMS) hosted its Band Concert on Dec. 13 at the Community Gym featuring First Flight, Percussion Class, and the Eagle Band led by Music Director David Howard where they performed a few holiday favorites, marches, and other songs.
“I thought the students did very well,” said Howard. “I was impressed with their desire to do a great job. They were eager to share what they have learned and it showed. The number of parents who attended is a testament to the students wanting to show what they have learned.”
There were concessions for guests to enjoy at the Fifth Annual Winter Concert at RHS with items that cost $1 or less along with a 50/50 raffle. The concert began with the Beginner Guitar class which performed three songs. Due to Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) providing funds for the music department they were able to purchase a guitar rack for the over 40 guitar players.
The Riverbank Choir was up next at RHS and they performed three songs as well. Most of the singers were new to choir with the exception of two students.
The RHS Beginner Band has only been together for a couple of months but they have made great progress and performed several selections.
“The beginner band playing Carol of the Bells was a standout piece,” said Aguilar. “They worked really hard on the music and it was the first one they started learning outside of the beginner book.”
The RHS Music Department has also received funds for new instruments.
The Concert Band performed a variety of holiday pieces including one featuring Dolores Navarro on flute and Angela Hosford on trumpet.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside with the Angela Hosford and Dolores Navarro duet was the standout piece for the Advanced Band,” expressed Aguilar. “It was great as usual. I just wish more (people) had stayed until the end of the concert and not just leave once their student had finished performing. All our students deserve to be heard for their hard work and efforts.”
There has been an increase in band members from last year with 147 this year from the 57 musicians that they had last year in the program that make up five different classes for Mr. Howard.
“The big reason for the increase is that RUSD was able to restart our elementary music program last year,” added Howard. “We have a great teacher, LeeAnn Messer that was able to start over 100 students on instruments. Over 90 of them are still playing in the program at Cardozo.”
The CMS Band Concert began with a greeting from RUSD Superintendent Dr. Daryl Camp explaining that music brings people together and that Mr. Howard is doing great things. The Community Gym was packed with guests filling the stands and several guests standing.
“The turnout of guests was larger than anticipated,” Howard pleasantly explained. “We knew that to have that many students playing we would need a larger venue. This was the first time we have used the community gym. I expected to fill one side of the gym but did not expect to have guests on the back side or standing.”
The Beginning Band performed five different pieces.
“We practice in four classes during the school day,” added Howard. “The night of the concert was the first time they had played those pieces of music together. They did such a good job. I was very pleased to see them demonstrate the concert techniques we have been working on and focus on playing to the best of their ability.”
The Eagle Band performed five selections as well.
“My advanced band has grown musically so much this year,” stated Howard. “They are doing as well now as last year’s group did at the end of the year.”
The Percussion Class entertained the crowd with three different pieces.
With such a large band at CMS they have had to borrow instruments from the high school so that every student can play. They are looking to add instruments next year. Howard said that they have a need for additional storage for all the instruments as well.
“They (Percussion) did a great job listening and working together,” said Howard. “I am excited that the Riverbank community has expressed such an interest in music. We have a lot of great things happening at Cardozo Middle School and music is just one of them.”