The Final Band Concert of the Year Bids Seniors Farewell

With an opening act featuring the Stone Hill Middle School band, the Phoenix performed a variety of musical works and cheered on their senior bandmates as they prepared to leave for college.


Manika Porchezhian

Junior Sneha Nekkanty, freshman Arjun Alagappa, and junior Joanne Ma play the flutes in Ralph Vaughan William’s fast-paced “English Folk Song Suite.” “We did well blending with each other during this concert,” Nekkanty said. “Our intonation was also better [compared to] the beginning of the year.”

On May 12, Rock Ridge hosted a band concert with performances from three separate bands from two different schools. Kicking off the show was the Stone Hill Middle School “Stingray” 8th grade band, who performed two pieces — “Triton Fanfare” by Robert W. Smith and “GROOVEE!” by Richard Saucedo — led by their directors, Robyn Lawrence and Andrew Giotta, as an opening act for the two Rock Ridge bands to follow. 

As the Stone Hill students took their seats in the audience, they, along with fellow spectators, welcomed to the stage the director for both Phoenix bands, Justin Ratcliff, who called upon the Phoenix Concert Winds. Despite being the smallest group of the three, the concert winds have shown an amazing amount of improvement over the course of the year and played three pieces — “Plaza De Toros” by Michael Story, “The Dragon Lord” by Randall Standridge, and “Spania” by David Scheafer — before leaving the stage.

Wrapping up the concert,the Phoenix Wind Ensemble took the stage. The Wind Ensemble has the largest number of musicians and is considered the most experienced of the three bands. They also played the most songs: “Peacemaker March” by Karl King, “The Bonsai Tree” by Julie Giroux, “English Folk Song Suit, Mvmt 1” by Ralph Vaughn Williams, and “Undertow” by John Mackey.

Although this spectacle was planned as a celebratory Annual Spring Concert, it was bittersweet for all members as this was the last chance seniors got to perform with their younger peers before they left high school.

Senior Arjun Dulai sees band as an instrumental part of his high school experience, reflecting on the Independence High School and Lightridge High School split, COVID-19 pandemic, and how the band has grown since. “I think that our program was deflated because [in] our sophomore year, once those seniors left, we had  the [Independence and Lightridge] split and then COVID happened,” Dulai said. “I think we really tried and worked hard to rebuild our program, get our positions back, and get everything in a good place.” 

Sophomore Nicole Smith will miss her senior bandmates and their experiences together. “New people are great, but I’m going to miss some of the seniors leaving,” Smith said. “I just want to keep the quality [of our performances].” However, looking back on the past allows a chance to look forward to the future.

Senior Chandini Arun’s career in band has been a rollercoaster.  “Sometimes [band is] going to get really hard and you want to quit and stop everything, but by reaching out to other people and just sticking with it, you will definitely have a great time,” Arun said. 

Furthermore, Arun highlights the hard work and dedication put into band that many don’t realize. “[People] just think you take an instrument,” Arun said. “There’s a lot more that goes into it and a lot more analytical and critical thinking while doing it.”

Dulai also stresses the importance of community in band to help one another to succeed. “There’s always someone who is going to be willing to help you,” Dulai said. “It doesn’t even have to be band related, if you want help with anything, you can always find someone to help you.” 

With a sense of family being common among bandmates, it is evident that current freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will carry the words of their departing seniors with them into next year. “I’ve heard a lot about the new freshmen coming in, and I’ve heard that they’re really good,” junior Sneha Nekkanty said. “Some of them have gotten district chairs, hopefully [the band] will be better next year.” 

With promising, and anticipated, new additions to the Rock Ridge bands, the Phoenix look forward to the future.