Rock Band Chemistry Brings the Pride of Portola ‘Closer to the Heart’


Photo by William Hsieh

Guitarists sophomore Joaquin Goana and junior Jeffrey Mejia have practiced their instruments for many years, but bassist and junior Cinta Adhiningrat is a self-taught rising musician.

Tiffany Wu, Co-News Editor

Amid the airy richness of brass and woodwinds, two electric guitars wail a familiar riff, accompanied by the alluring warble of electric bass and a gentle crooning of the keyboard. Metal bleachers pulsate in response to the drum set’s steadily pounding rhythm.

Co-band director Kyle Traska incorporated an actual rock band in the annual Pride of Portola marching band and color guard field show as a part of the theme ‘Closer to the Heart,’ based off Canadian rock band Rush. The group is comprised of bassist and sophomore Cinta Adhiningrat, keyboardist and sophomore Vanessa Ho, guitarist and sophomore Joaquin Gaona, guitarist and junior Jeffrey Mejia and drummer and sophomore Salomon Sepulveda.

“I’m definitely inspired by drummers David Cola and Brian Frasier Moore. But I play drums in honor of God; I believe he gave me all my talents. That’s my real inspiration.””

— Salomon Sepulveda, sophomore

Though members come from various backgrounds, such as Guitar I, Guitar II and Concert Band, they have grown closer through a common love for their respective instruments and, unexpectedly, their culture, which contributed largely to the formation of their unique chemistry.

“Our personalities match also because a lot of us are Mexican, so there’s that,” Sepulveda said. “So when we joke around, we kind of just understand each other, and it makes it all the more better because we get to play music together.”

The members’ similarities in ethnicity and culture helped them unite initially. But beyond culture, the group maintains an extremely inclusive atmosphere, love for marching band, gratefulness for the opportunity to stand out in a unified ensemble and a shared desire to improve.

“We’re always yelling something at each other, whether it’s in Spanish or in English,” Gaona said. “But it’s something only we can get, because most of the time, our cultures are very similar.”

Band camp also serves as a bonding opportunity. The rock band spent nine-hour days during their summers tirelessly practicing in room 304 or on the field, developing friendships from their hard work and determination.

“With everyone in front ensemble, we’ve kind of known each other for a long time because of band camp, and we all just throw around jokes,” Adhiningrat said. “Even though on the field we have to stay serious, when we’re back in 304, it’s really lighthearted; we always feel like we’re having fun with each other.”

The band members are avid fans of the rock ‘n’ roll genre, as both Gaona and Mejia were familiar with Rush prior to the theme release and known for playing rock songs on their guitars in their classes last year, according to Traska.

“Being part of a band was always a dream of mine going into high school,” Mejia said. “Now that I’m with these people, it honestly fulfills that dream. Even though it’s not the exact perfect thing I wanted, it’s very close. [The other members] are all well rounded musicians.”