Five High Schools, Three Nights, One Festival

Principal John Pehrson introduces the Portola symphonic band.

Priscilla Baek, Co-Editor-In-Chief

IUSD music festival showcase brought together all five Irvine high schools from March 28-30 in the Portola theater with participants celebrating various forms of music.

Tuesday: Wind Ensemble

The festival started off strong with Portola High wind ensemble playing pieces from Mark Williams and Duble conducted by VAPA department chair Desmond Stevens. The night continued with Woodbridge wind ensemble and a charming Northwood wind symphony march song featuring the Northwood trombones.

Irvine and University wind ensembles both performed historical pieces, the “L’Inglesina” (The Little English Girl) and “Command March,” respectively, ending with a solo trombone performance by Woodbridge student Ian Stridter.

“It was definitely a cool experience having other schools come together and learn from the experience and examples of other senior wind ensembles,” saxophone player and freshman Eddie Chen said. “It also allowed for Mr. Stevens to see what to improve on teaching us students, but I wished I practiced more.”

Wednesday: Choir

Aside from the glitz and glam of instruments, the vocal groups got a chance to showcase beautiful lyrical music. Despite being smaller than other groups, Portola concert choral projected its voices to two liberty-focused songs, “Siyahamba” and “Let My People Go,” also directed by Stevens.

Woodbridge Bel Canto sang a traditional Scottish song as well as a biblical piece with soloist Jessica Bakker. University Canta Bella performed two more strong classical songs accompanied by Aaron Ramirez. Northwood’s Viva Cantar and Irvine’s Canta Bella both had prominent soloists such as Northwood’s Michelle Du, Hurya Ahmed and Hannah Yang and Irvine’s Haley Ainsworth and Ahia Yehia.

“I thought it was great to learn from other schools, but they were very intimidating to be honest. Even though I wanted to improve our tempo, beat, and diction, I felt we did well despite being freshmen,” vocalist and freshman Hannah Siekmann said.

Thursday: Orchestra

In the final evening, the IUSD Orchestra Festival brought together highly talented and honorable musicians for a night the audience would definitely remember. Conducted by Stevens, Portola symphonic band performed “alla rustica” from a recurring composer that night, Vivaldi, as well as classical pieces from Velasco and Krance.

University symphonic orchestra and Woodbridge philharmonic orchestra, both conducted by Irvine District’s leading female directors, contributed well-executed three part concertos. Like all high school orchestras that night, Northwood and Irvine’s philharmonic orchestras presented experienced players and great musical examples to look up to through pieces from Handel and Vivaldi.

“I felt inspired and more motivated to get better at cello, even though I was nervous performing in front of other top high school orchestras,” cellist and freshman Ellie Jeong said.

As the festival came to a close, Northwood’s Ben Case thanked Stevens for use of the theater and help coordinating the event. Throughout the festival, appearances from either principals or vice principals from all schools came to represent and show appreciation of the musical talent displayed.

“It [the festival] is great, especially for our students now because all the other ensembles that were there were mostly made up of juniors and seniors, so they got to see people that have been doing this for much longer than our students have. It also gave a necessary sense that what we are doing here isn’t just happening here, but across the district,” Stevens said.