Unique honors concert highlights local music programs
by Glenn Moore
Jan 10, 2014 | 3457 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Choir and orchestra students will join band musicians for the first time as Tracy area students showcase their musical talents in a Tracy Honor Band concert Jan. 25.

Tom Renner, Tracy Unified School District’s visual and performing arts coordinator, said more than a hundred music students in seventh through 10th grades will perform during the honor concert at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts, 715 Central Ave.

Renner said the Tracy Honor Band breaks from traditional bands of either all high school or all middle school students.

“We’re doing something very different here in the design of this program than most places do,” Renner said.

Several years ago, Tracy school district officials noticed a decline in the number of students in high school music programs. Renner said some of the students who performed well as middle schoolers dropped out of music when they reached high school. The honors band was redesigned to straddle the transition point from middle to high school and keep their interest.

“The point of this is that those key students in the seventh and eighth grade are getting their exposure to the high school-level students in nine and 10th grade, and those students as they transition start making plans for themselves and we retain them in the programs,” Renner said.

The middle and high school students will perform side by side on the Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Theatre.

Marissa Anderson, a Tracy High sophomore, will sing as a soprano with the first choir to perform at the honors concert.

“I think it is cool to be asked to be in it — it really surprised me. I didn’t used to do choir, so it was interesting to get asked to be in a choir,” Marissa said.

Previously, she said she had performed in elementary school musicals. She was eager to sing with younger students as a member of the Tracy High choir.

“I think it will be fun to help them love music as much as I do and get them interested in more.”

Students auditioned with their music teachers to be selected for the honors band concert. The teachers are still choosing the performers who will make up the band, orchestra and choir, considering what instrumentation is needed and which grades and schools are represented.

Getting ready for his third honors band showing, Tracy High freshman trumpet player Steven Taruc recalled his first two performances as a student at Jefferson School.

“My first year I felt really nervous, but now I got the hang of it and I learned through it,” Steven said. “Playing with older (musicians), it felt like someone to look up to and follow; now with the younger, it is a way to teach them so they can be good when they get older too.”

Though the concert is a Tracy Unified School District event, students from any school that feeds into the district are eligible to perform, Renner said. The concert will showcase students from all three TUSD high schools, the middle school and K-8 schools and from Jefferson and New Jerusalem schools.

Renner said students had been fine-tuning their audition materials since the school year began.

Gary Gilroy, a music professor and director of bands at Fresno State University will join teachers as a guest conductor. Music performed at the honors concert will be selected by the conductors.

Tracy High junior Gabbi Lampkin was looking forward to joining the inaugural choir performance at the honors concert and was pleased with the idea of teaming up with younger singers.

“Singing is my passion, and I would love to share it with others and then they get their passion too,” Gabbi said. “Everyone here is looking to conquer their fear and find their voice.”

The Tracy Honor Band performance begins at 2 p.m. Jan. 25. Tickets are $5 for adults. Kindergarten through 12th-grade students are admitted free. Tickets can be purchased at the Grand Theatre box office on Central Avenue or online at http://atthegrand.org/BoxOfficeTickets.

• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or gmoore@tracypress.com.

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