2023 Spring Band Concert – A Dignified Endeavour

March 31, 2023

March 8th, 2023 marked the night of San Dimas High School’s spring band concert. With 10 different songs being performed, each Wind Ensemble and the jazz band got the opportunity to perform multiple pieces.

The night begins with an introduction by Mr. Sandt, one of the band’s two directors, and he commends the band’s hard work before handing the mic over to Mr. Beckford, the band’s other director. During his introduction of Wind Ensemble 1 for “Professional March”, he mentions that this event is happening in concurrence with the band festival (where they would score a Unanimous Superior for “Lord Tullamore”). The first piece starts with Jacob Dominguez conducting on his own for the first time. Taking his time preparing, he was clearly focused. The music proceeds gracefully, with the band members nervous beforehand now relaxed and settling into the confident rhythm they would retain for the rest of the night

Breezing through four songs, Wind Ensemble 1 concludes their set, and Wind Ensemble 2 begins warming up on a darkened stage. Like a ship coming in through the fog, this group opens with “The Great Race”, with Bozrin Porter conducting. Porter conducted previously for the Christmas concert. In contrast with the Spring concert, he says that it was a test of his leadership skill and how he could help the band. Percussion is strong in the song and overall it has a fun finish. Porter started enthusiastically, keeping it up throughout, and ends with a smile on his face. “The Great Race originally a comedic classic if you would. A March song for a marching band. The preparation and work that went in this song were a lot, but through perseverance and the help of Mr. Beckford guiding me in the song, it became a proud piece that I had the honor to conduct.”

Wind Ensemble 2’s songs have a sense of adventure, with “Aventura” being a crowd favorite, obvious from the ongoing applause in the occupied auditorium. The song sonically moves like a butterfly: free and glorious.

Mr. Sandt introduces Wind Ensemble 3 to the stage, and the first song, “Lord Tullamore”, is introduced as what he describes to be real music. With Sandt having found it in grad school and performing it then, this is the first year the band actually performs and nails the song on stage. “Whenever we select music for the wind ensembles, you take into account the skill level of the individual players in the actual band you’re teaching,” Sandt says. “Looking at how high can the trumpets play, are the woodwinds’ fingers really good a moving quickly between the notes, all those sorts of things, and you try and select music that’ll work for them.”

He notes “Lord Tullamore” as being a difficult piece to play, and says that Wind Ensemble 3 is one of the best groups he’s had, and acknowledges their ability to latch onto it and do a really good job with it. “It’s as good as it gets,” Sandt says.

In describing the night, Sandt says it’s the “biggest opportunity to be musicians and for us to really work on our craft.” And in practicing and preparing for such a night, he says “Every day in class, we’re working on them being able to produce just a beautiful sound on their instrument and being able to read really well, and being able to think about the rest of the group. Like, ‘what are the other people doing and do I match what they’re doing?’, you know in terms of pitch and tone and the balance amongst the group.”

In defining his dynamic with Mr. Beckford, Sandt says that they work very well together, without arguing, and the environment has always been incredible in its positivity. “We don’t necessarily teach things exactly the same, and that’s okay because we’re teaching separate ensembles. I’m privileged this year to be allowed to teach the two more advanced groups, Jazz band and Wind Ensemble 3, and he’s [Beckford] teaching the younger bands.” The main design of this instruction is to trade back and forth year by year.

Moving into the latter half of the night, the Jazz band takes its place on stage, performing six songs and leaving a sonically vibrant imprint on everyone that night. They hop right into the first song, “Pick Up The Pieces” as soon as the curtains open. Mr. Sandt is conducting at this point, and he appeared to enjoy these songs very much. In “Beyond the Sea” Bella Nazaryan takes on the first and only vocal solo of the night and does not disappoint. With an amazing tone taking you back to the golden age of Hollywood, her smile throughout the song made for a very nice pairing with the strength of her voice.

After the second song, the Jazz band moves into their competition songs. Senior Travis Jackson solos on the bass trombone in “Makin’ Whoopee”, playing expressively. “It took a lot of practice outside of the class to get to where I was that night,” Jackson says. “I’m personally a pretty shy person so hearing that I had to perform in front of a crowd was really scary.” He says that Mr. Sandt gave him every opportunity to stand up and play in front of everyone, which helped him. “I also had to practice enough so that I was confident in my solo and wouldn’t fear that it sounded terrible on stage. I have less than a year on this instrument, so I still got a long way to go and more performances to do, so I’m still trying to refine the sound.” Jackson says that ever since he signed up for an after-school band in the fifth grade, he’s had a whole lot of fun since then. “I’ve tried to experiment with playing many different instruments, inside and outside of school, and I can credit most of that from the inspiration band gave me.”

One thing about Jazz that has prevailed and is a staple of the genre’s sound is the rhythm and percussion provided by the drums. Senior Liam Luevand played with ease on the drums, years of experience behind him evidenced by the precision he brought with him. “I prepped for the concert by taking time outside of school to listen to and play along with the studio recordings of the songs and see what type of feel I could pull from them while still making it my own.” When inspiration begins to wane, Luevand says that he will often “switch things up and focus on another aspect of music, whether it’s drumming to a different style of music or working on playing another instrument altogether. By the time I come back to working on jazz, I usually feel refreshed and ready to take a new approach.”

A common connection the band has is the rhythm backing them up, adding a whole new layer to the song. With percussion, Luevand describes the rhythm section as being the backbone of nearly every song. “In a social aspect, I am closest with the other people in the rhythm section, like the bassist, guitarist, and pianist. We are all pretty good friends and get along well, which actually helps with keeping time because we all feel comfortable and used to each other’s playing styles.”

Riley Tanag takes the piano on with confidence, and is prevalent in “Sabor de Cuba”, igniting a danceable energy within the audience, with foot tapping and head-bobbing moving along to the rhythm. A song so good and performed so well, Celia Cruz would be proud.


Though the San Dimas High School band is often heard at school events like football games and rallies, their performances then only scratch the surface of their vast arsenal of skill and showmanship. The acknowledgment must be paid to Mr. Beckford and Mr. Sandt for their gift of teaching in such a way that melds together a talented, seamless team of musicians that no doubt have a future in music should they pursue it professionally. It is with pride that we here at the Saint Scroll recognize the efforts and time put in by the entire band.

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