Sophomore Emily Berke plays her trumpet part in a band rehearsal. (Photo by Elena Lipman)

Band and orchestra festival location moved to San Mateo

Going against tradition, the high-school and middle-school band and orchestra will not perform at the Vallejo Forum Music Festival. The high-school music groups will instead participate in the San Mateo Forum Music Festival on April 26.

Forum Festivals are qualifying events for schools to earn invitations to the next year’s statewide competition held in Anaheim in April.

Orchestra teacher Felecia Keys said that a first change was made to accommodate the school’s seven groups because each Forum Festival location can handle only a certain number of groups.

But when the groups committed to a different Forum Festival (Forum Festivals are held multiple times up and down the state), that competition had only middle-school entrants.

Keys then had to change the date again to accommodate Octagon and Medallion staff members who are also in the band and orchestra. Both publications staffs will be traveling to the National Scholastic Press Association West Coast Convention in San Diego during the original Vallejo Forum Festival time (April 19).

Because of this change, Keys and music director Bob Ratcliff had to move from the Vallejo location to San Mateo.

After the competitions, the music groups traditionally spend a half day at a theme park. Since the San Mateo competition is closer to the Great America theme park in Santa Clara than to Six Flags in Vallejo, the groups will go to Great America.

The middle-school groups are now attending a competition in Fremont (April 12) and will also be going to Great America, as the Santa Clara theme park is closer to their Fremont competition.

Keys said that the plan is to alternate between state and Bay Area competitions every other year, taking advantage of the closer proximity of the Bay Area forum competitions and also participating in the state competition if the groups qualify.

[pullquote align=”left” speaker=”Sydney Michel, sophomore”]I am super excited for the change in venue and park. I have been to Six Flags twice already, so it will be good to have a change of scenery.[/pullquote]

Fellow trombone player sophomore Adam Ketchum echoed Michel’s statement, but Ketchum had a different reason for his happiness.

“There won’t be any middle schoolers running around because they’ll go to Fremont on a different day, which means it’s just us high schoolers,” Ketchum said.

The only concern Michel has about the venue switch is the longer drive, but she said that the different experience of Great America will make up for the extra hour each way.

Ketchum was not concerned with the drive.

“I’ll just pop in my headphones and take a nap,” he said.

Percussion player senior Daniel Kong was indifferent.

“I don’t really care where we go because I haven’t been to either (Six Flags or Great America),” he said. “But I do think it is important to have a group bonding and fun activity after the competition in the morning.”

Keys said that while the chief goal of the competition is to win awards and qualify for the state competition, the theme park excursion is about having fun.

“Our kids work hard for this,” Keys said. “They work for months and months. And after all of that work, it is nice for them to blow off some steam and spend some time with their friends.”

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