Before a concert, band teacher Bob Ratcliff always worries about whether or not the high-school band’s and jazz band’s performance will keep the audience from texting and looking at their watches.

“Is (the concert) something that people won’t mind sitting through?” he asks. “Will they enjoy it?”

But it seems that Ratcliff isn’t concerned about the high-school winter concert on Thursday, Dec. 18.

He said the band sounded “really nice” at the last rehearsal.

Ratcliff attributes this to having many veteran players.  Their experience is the “key to any good sounds we’re creating right now,” he said.

The first flute, first trumpet, principal percussion and lowest instrument (baritone saxophone) players are all seniors.

“If it sounds good to me, it’s probably going to sound good to most people,” he said.

And that’s because he’s picky, he added with a laugh.

Before the band performs each piece, Ratcliff likes to point out something in the song for the audience to listen for.

Here’s a preview of three songs with Ratcliff’s commentary:

Jazz band: Traditionally a slow ballad, “Stella By Starlight” will be played as an up-tempo Latin song, like a samba.

Band: The band will play “Down a Country Road” by Aaron Copland, “the quintessential American composer.”

“Much of the music (Copland) wrote eventually became the basis for almost every Western movie ever,” Ratcliff said. This song is a “walking out in the field and flowers on a nice summer day kind of piece.”

While this piece has a simple tune, it’s difficult to play, Ratcliff said, because the instruments are very exposed. This makes it very easy to play out of tune.

Full orchestra: The combined wind and strings will play “The Christmas Song,” Ratcliff’s favorite Christmas song.

“I love that tune.”

For the full program, go to the MP room by 7 p.m. and listen to the high-school winter concert. No texting or watch-glancing allowed.

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