The 2018-2019 Christian Brothers High School Band was blessed with an amazing school year, which will forever remain in every band members memory. The band started the school year off right by honoring its new senior class with a performance at the Ring Mass Ceremony. This ceremony was the dawning of the greatness to come of that year. During the rest of the year, the band showcased its prestigious nature with exemplary concerts, energetic pep band games, charismatic competitions, and the international Frontier Tour.
One of the first milestones of the year was Walnut Groove’s performance at the Bell Tower Gala in the iconic Peabody Hotel. This performance was dedicated to Brother Chris, who was stepping down from his role as CBHS’ President. Brother Chris was one of the band’s greatest supporters, so it seemed fitting for the jazz band to perform for him one last time.
Walnut Groove spent the remainder of the year by playing jazz gigs at schools all over Memphis including:Immaculate Conception, OLPH, Incarnation, St. Mary’s, and St. Agnes along with its annual fall and spring concerts, which showcased excellent improvisation skills from our talented musicians. Another notable achievement of Walnut Groove was its commendable work in the Taste of CBHS fundraiser on March 4. This performance was especially important because the money raised would be used for the band’s international Frontier Tour.
The jazz band was not the only specialized band to make its appearance; the historic band made its debut at the Veterans Day Parade, to commemorate the protectors of this great country. Other historic band performances included the Massing of Colors on November 4 as well as the Christmas Parade on Beale Street. Finally WREG TV's "Live at 9" featured the band as a means to promote the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day.
On December 16, the concert band gave a spectacular performance at the fall concert, which presented great renditions of the band’s repertoire. The band performed “I Have a Dream” by Greg Danner, to celebrate the golden anniversary of Martin Luther King’s passing. The band also featured two soloist, Ryan Franklin and Zack Hillenbrand, with an arrangement of “Precious Lord Take My Hand” by Robert W. Smith, which was the last piece MLK requested before his death. The band also played Beale Street Blues arranged by our very own Patrick Bolton to honor the bicentennial anniversary of Memphis. The Band President and Vice President performed solo arrangements. The Band President, Austin Abbot, rendered a graceful performance of the “Trumpeter’s Lullaby,” by Leroy Anderson, while Band Vice President, Will Thomas, presented a breathtaking version of “Concerto For Trombone and Band,” by N. Rimsy-Korsakov.
The CBHS Band is no stranger to excelling in local competitions, and this year was no exception. The band was involved in many of these competitive honor bands including: Ichthys, All-West/ All-State, and the University of Memphis Honor Band. This year the University of Memphis Honor Band iwas made up of several of our own fine musicians that had the pleasure of meeting the famous composer, John Macky. In January, the band upheld its reputation with the amount of students that placed in the All-West competition. Christian Brothers’ entire clarinet section managed to place in All-West Bands, bringing the total of participants to 21 students. Five of those students even went further on to qualify for the All-State Band.
The 2019 spring concert was an impressive performance that showcased the musical nature of frontiers. For this frontier-themed concert Veteran Band Director David Ryan prepared a piece for the concert called “Badlands." Other pieces from the Gold Band’s concert included: To the Frontier March, Seascape Overture, Into the Arctic, Sirocco, Alaska Scherzo, Particles,and Star Trek. Finally band vice president Will Thomas arranged a march version of Gustav Holsts "Mars" for the band to perform.
Normally, the band concludes the school year by playing Bless this House at the Senior Graduation Ceremony, however, this year was different because after this performance the band embarked on its international Frontier Tour.
The Frontier Tour served as a momentous event in the band’s history, marking the first time the band has ever played outside of the United States. The Frontier Tour also allowed our band students to showcase their talents across the country. After a long flight, the Band arrived in Seattle. After a seafood lunch at Anthony's HomePort, the band traveled to La Salle Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon. At out sister school, the band had the wonderful opportunity to meet and play along with the La Salle High School Band. The next day, the band had its performance at the Seattle Center, marking the 25th state the band has played in. From there, the band set sail aboard the Carnival Legend with its first stop in the Tracy Arm Fjord. That morning the band performed as the ships featured entertainment. The next day the band hiked the National Park of Skagway, Alaska before embarking to the Alaskan capitol of Juneau. In Juneau the band performed in frontier like conditions for a crowd in their Marine Park before taking a tour of the Alaskan State Museum. The next morning the band watched a lumberjack competition in Ketchikan before walking to mass at the Holy Names Catholic Church. After a day at sea the band stopped in Victoria, British Columbia for a tour and performed the Alma Mater and School Song in the ship's library to officially perform in Canada. The band had a wonderful time on the Alaskan Cruise with highlights including a Karaoke Party, Great Hiking Trails, Learning about the Gold Rush and the Brothels that accompanied it, and observing great wildlife including Eagles, Whales, Orcas, Seals, and even a Bear. The boys especially loved the all you can eat buffets, the comedy club, trivia competitions, and a hot tub party. The concluded with a tour of the Seattle Space Needle before returning to Memphis.
The Christian Brothers Band has now performed in 26 states, Washington D.C. and British Columbia.
2020 Band President
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