SAN RAMON (KRON) — The California High School marching band in San Ramon has been practicing their performance with an additional fervor this week.
“You want to stand big, you want to have your elbows separated,” band director Kent Johnson tells a student. “You don’t want your upper body to support your elbows.”
For the first time, the award-winning music program at Cal High has been selected to compete in Fleet Week’s Battle of the Bands in Golden Gate Park.
They will compete against seven other Bay Area high school bands.
It is a coveted invitation that band director Kent Johnson has long hoped to bring to his program.
Yet, most of his students were unaware of just what that invitation meant.
“It was a dream…but I never talked to about with the kids because I didn’t want them to get excited about something and then we not attend,” Johnson said.
“When our band director told us that we were actually a band that got selected, few of us knew just what that was,” band member Kaarina Hazari said.
The band’s surprise at being selected was met with their delight.
“I think it was amazing that Cal High was selected to be in this event, and I think we deserve it because we have been working so hard,” band member Madhur Biswas said.
“I never thought that I could be on such a stage that I would have a few thousand people watching me,” band member J.J. Armenio said.
For seniors, this serves as a touchstone for their years in the band.
“It’s my last year here, and I think it’s a great opportunity for me to leave with,” Biswas said.
Band members have embraced the challenge with a youthful enthusiasm as they face the competition.
“Just being selected that was just one battle to get over,” Hazari said. “We’re just going to keep our sense of togetherness and hope it gets us over this other battle.”
For a band director, giving them the opportunity was a reward in itself.
“To be able to give something to my kids and give them an experience that we may never have again,” Johnson said.
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