This year, the HRVHS Wind Ensemble kicked off their spring break early. The band took a trip of musical exploration, visiting Pacific Lutheran University, and the University of Washington, to do workshops with esteemed music conductors. They also attended performances by the Seattle Symphony and several high school jazz bands from around the North West at the Starbucks sponsored Hot Java Cool Jazz Event. The students topped off their trip with tours of the Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum, the landmarks of Seattle, and the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. This year notes Mark Steighner’s final tour as director of the music department.
The tour began Thursday, March 19th, with a three hour drive to the Pacific Lutheran University, where the band had the honor to work with the university’s seasoned music director Ed Powell. Upon entering the music hall, the students realized the levity of the workshop they were entering: “It was so beautiful, and I think it just made us play better, because we were like- gotta step our game up cause we’re in such a beautiful place,” senior Rory Krehbiel recalled. The director worked with the group for about an hour, underneath the shadow of the university’s magnificent pipe organ. Powell worked with the students on many levels, and his positive attitude helped them become more confident in their abilities. “He had a lot of energy, and I really liked how passionate he seemed to be about everything, and he appreciated all the instruments,” stated sophomore Sean Gray.
After the workshop, the band made their way down to the port of Seattle for dinner and a view of the sunset over the puget sound. They then drove to Benaroya Hall and waited for the Seattle Symphony to start their rendition of Sibelius’s third and fourth symphonies. The performance captivated the whole crowd: “The music gave a lot of energy out and I’m sure the musicians got energy back from the way everyone responded,” junior Miguel Vasquez revealed. Mark Steighner also pointed out that it was a rare occasion in which in a room of thousands of people, nobody was preoccupied by their phones or devices. After the symphony, the band went the the Sea-tac Embassy Suites and prepared for their next day of activities.
On the second day, the band went on a short tour of Seattle with their tour guide pointing out landmarks like Bruce Lee’s original Kung-Fu Club, the Starbucks coffee headquarters, the neighborhood where music legend Kurt Cobain lived, and much more. The group later arrived at the University of Washington for their second workshop, admiring the rows of cherry trees in full bloom around the campus and the immaculate architecture of the buildings on the way. Wind conductor Timothy Salzman was eager to work with the ensemble but chose a very different approach than the previous director. “The second [director] that we had we played less, but we definitely got more in,” saxaphone player Vasquez recalled. “He talked a lot about our posture and how to sit in a performance.” Salzman focused on posture for a majority of the time, ensuring that all the members were able to get as much air as possible. This tactic brought immediate improvement, making the band sound stronger, therefore more confident. While Salzman spoke, one would notice many students on their phones, but they weren’t checking their texts, they were taking detailed notes to remember all of the valuable knowledge he was conveying.
Within minutes of the workshop ending, the band was back on their bus and off to their next activities at the Seattle Center. The center, which is home to long running music festivals, multiple art museums, activity centers, and of course the Space Needle, was open for the band to explore for about an hour until it was time for their tour of the Experience Music Project museum. They then had a couple of hours to walk around the EMP, which sophomore Nathan Johnston described as “a hipster’s dream of what music would be if it was in physical form.” The museum was complete with personalized jam session rooms, a band simulator, an indie video game arcade, exhibits devoted to the careers of Seattle natives Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana, a “guitar tornado”, a sky church- based on Jimi Hendrix’s idea of a place where people of all ages and backgrounds could come to celebrate musical experience, and a brand new star wars exhibit containing original costumes from the movies.
After the band was hit by the EMP, they grabbed dinner and walked the streets of Seattle to reach the Paramount theatre, eager to experience the quickly sold out Starbucks’s Hot Java Cool Jazz event. Running for 20 years strong, this year’s performance raised over $55,000. This money was directly donated to the music programs of the participating schools. Unlike the previous night’s musical performance, the Jazz Festival was more relatable for the HRV students. “Those high schoolers are freaking awesome- they definitely can play better than we can and that kind of inspires me to practice more so that I can become like them and have that capability to, you know, to play that hard,” stated an inspired Vasquez. The high schools, Edmonds-Woodway, Garfield, Mount Si, Mountlake Terrace and Roosevelt, are made up of talented woodwind, pianist, brass and vocal soloists, but they also worked together with incredible accuracy, and the festival was overall “a lot of fun” as recalled by junior Marelie Vorster. After the festival, the band went back to the suites for some much needed free time and rest.
Before heading home, the band went to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Their favorite animals included the nurturing mother tiger and her playful cubs, the awkward but charming walruses, and the adorable long haired musk cattle. The band went home with more knowledge of music as well as many strong bonds of friendship, which not only benefited the individuals, but also the collective group. Krehbiel sentimentally voiced her sweeping feelings of the trip: “I think being on the bus was really fun because we were on the bus for so long that we just had to work together, and live together, and deal with it, and I feel like it really created a group mind.”