Tracy students impress the community with their musical talent


Isabel Cruz, Staff Reporter

On March 7, West High hosted the annual Tracy Unified School District Music Festival. Close to 600 talented musicians from the middle and high schools of the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) gathered in the gym to perform a wide array of songs for their families and each other.

As families and friends filed through the doors, the Tracy Honor Jazz Band kicked off the event with a lively set. Composed of students from West High, Tracy High and Monte Vista Middle School, the Honor Jazz band welcomed the attendees with songs Then and Now by George Stone, Cubauza by Michael Philip Mossman, When I Fall in Love by Victor Young and Sweet Georgia Brown by B. Bernie, M. Pinkard and K. Casey. With the last measures of Sweet Georgia Brown, conductors Mr. Jacob Cortez, Ms. Lori Yates, Ms. Victoria Smith, Mr. Dave Villa, Ms. Adriana Enriquez, Mr. R. Thomas Renner, Ms. Jennifer Grover, Mr. Jeff Kumagai, Mr. Randy McMillan and Mr. Jonathan Raman took their places.

The main event opened with a cohesive performance of Conquistador! by Deborah Monday from the All District Combined Band, Choir and Orchestra (the band and orchestra being a mix of both middle and high school students). Following the opening song, the ensembles took turns performing, rotating with each piece. The combined choir sang Liza (Water Come a Me Eye), a Jamaican folk song, Down the River to Pray, a traditional piece, Les Chansons des Roses: Dirait-on by R.M. Rilke and Morten Lauridsen and Ching-a-Ring Chaw, an American minstrel song.

After each choral performance played the combined string orchestra. The string orchestra played Reverie by James Corigliano, Danza Final by Alberto Ginastera and Forever Joyful! by Brian Balmages. The combined band followed the orchestra performances with songs Hadrian’s Wall by Robert Smith, Taco Tiempo by John Edmondson, Firebird Suite: Berceuse & Finale by Igor Stravinsky and Pulsation by Richard Saucedo.

The night concluded with a combined performance by the choir, band and orchestra of Ra’s Descent into the Dark Abyss composed by Monte Vista’s own Mr. Randy McMillan. The dark instrumentals accented by incredible percussion and Egyptian vocals created an  immersive atmosphere which led the piece to be a crowd favorite and a perfect way to cap off the event.

The District Festival was the product of the collaborative work of both students and teachers. For the teachers, the festival “has been in the works since last year,” says West High music director Mr. Jonathan Raman. For the students, they were required to attend two rehearsals where all 500+ students met in the West High gymnasium and practiced for hours both inside and outside of school. “It takes a lot of effort but at the end of the day, we’re happy to produce music,” adds Raman. “It is a really good opportunity for us to get together as one massive district and have a celebration of music.”