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Budget cuts sour note for Honor Band

Prestigious program faces tough decisions

Posted: January 27, 2009 9:16 p.m.
Updated: January 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Local high school directors and musicians are concerned anticipated state budget cuts could force the district's prestigious Honor Band program to shut down or shrink.

"My daughter works very hard in school, and band has been her creative outlet," said Carole Carpenter, mother of Caitlin Carpenter, a member of the district's Honor Band since the seventh grade and now a senior at Hart High School.

"This program has such a high level of excellence, it would disappointing to so many if the opportunity were not there anymore."

The family turned down a job relocation so their daughter could stay involved in the Hart band program.
For the last 28 years, the local junior high and high school music directors brought their best musicians together for an annual year-end concert.

"What began as about 100 students auditioning to play in the recital has turned into an enormous festivity not to be missed," said Randy Gilpin, the Honor Band spokesman.

The program attracts as many as 800 students to audition for the 85 available spots in each band - one composed of high school musicians and the other for junior high musicians.

Student musicians from junior high and high schools across the William S. Hart Union High School District will converge at Golden Valley High School Friday and Saturday to audition for coveted spots on the honor bands.

Auditions will be held Friday evening and Saturday morning by the musical directors from the Santa Clarita schools along with a few hired professional musicians.

"Eight audition rooms will be running in order to give all the students the chance to audition," Gilpin said.

Once directors choose the honor band members, the musicians rehearse the challenging pieces at their own schools, but will not all come together until the annual District Honor Band concert slated for March 7 in the Hart High School auditorium.

Tickets are $10 with the proceeds going to support the partially self-sustaining program. The district funds part of the program.

For Caitlin Carpenter, being involved in Honor Band every year has been the "icing on the cake of her musical education."

Professional guests Dr. Gary Gilroy from Cal State University-Fresno and Dan Bochard, a professional trombonist from the L.A. area, will conduct the final concert this year.

"It is a tremendous honor and great experience to make it onto the District Honor Band because it recognizes the students as outstanding musicians and allows them to advance musically," said Pat Willet, the district spokeswoman. "Every year, the audience is blown away by the high caliber of the music played and the professional directors are amazed by the talent in the Hart District."

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