2017-2018 was a fantastic school year for the Christian Brothers Band. With phenomenal performances, an exciting trip to New Orleans, and a very special pep band season, the CBHS band experienced yet another enjoyable and musical nine months.The year began with the band performing at the yearly Ring Ceremony at St. Louis Church and concluded with the Christian Brothers Graduation, but so much more happened between. The events this year shaped the band as a whole, bringing its members closer together as friends and creating memories that will last forever.
This year’s pep band season was particularly exciting because of the football team going undefeated for the first time in fifteen years. The band was there to accompany them at every game, playing songs like Rock Lobster, A.P. Touro, Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, and many others. At each game, the band maintained strong spirit and excitement throughout the night. The music added to the intensity and thrill of every game, providing the perfect soundtrack to the event.
This was a very special year for the very old historic band program at CBHS because they had the honor of leading a parade to the Lorraine Motel for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death. During the walk from the St. Peter’s Church to National Civil Rights Museum, the band played old American songs and spirituals and led the parade through the city with crowds of people watching. As the parade concluded, many were serenaded by the band including the Rev. Jesse Jackson who spoke after the parade. Other performances included a performance with the Pipe Organ at St. Peters, the Massing of the Colors, the Veterans Day Parade, and a performance for Mayor Jim Strickland in September.
The fall concert was a fine performance that showcased the talent of the band and produced great renditions of the pieces performed. One of those pieces being “Fantaisie Sur un Theme Original” by Jules Demersseman, which featured the band’s vice president, Jonathan Radcliff, on saxophone. The band performed “Flower Lady” by Ralph Hale and “Fortress Variations” commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Ninety-Five Theses. These works were performed in memory of Charlie Cahill ‘48 and Jason Seek ‘89 respectively, both band graduates and hall of fame members. “The Mississippi River March” by Julius Fucik was performed as tribute to the Czech composer to coincide with the 2018 Memphis in May International Salute to the Czech Republic and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Medley” was performed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this Beatles Album. Finally the band performed the Overture to “L’Orfeo” by Monteverdi to celebrate the 450th birthday of the composer and “The Legend of Zelda; The Hyrule Fantasy Concert March” celebrating the 30th anniversary of the original video game.
One exciting thing that happened during the school year was the band’s visit to New Orleans. The band followed the football team by train to St. Paul School in Covington, Louisiana where they performed with the St. Paul Band for the halftime show. The band then bussed to New Orleans to enjoyed the sights, food, and music of New Orleans. The band took a tour of the old city, learning about its music history and other interesting things. As expected, the food was fantastic. Breakfast one morning came from the famous Café du Monde, and dinner one night from a cozy restaurant called Mothers. The food, being a very important thing for band members, was much appreciated. The band also enjoyed a private concert from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Preservation Hall. The spirit and charisma in the music filled the small room with joy and got everyone moving and singing along.
Another exciting thing that happened was a visit from the band students of Colegio de LaSalle in Costa Rica in April. The members of the Colegio de LaSalle enjoyed spending their time sightseeing and performing in Memphis at Court Square, a CBHS Rugby Game, St. Benedict High School, and CBHS. For the final concert at CBHS, the CBHS band accompanied the Colegio de LaSalle band in playing “Marcha La Salle,” which would later be played by the CBHS band at the spring concert. It was a great experience for members of each band, many friends were made during the time of their visit.
Concert festival was quite the ordeal. The band made extensive preparations for the event, spending countless hours of work on John Philip Sousa’s “El Capitan March” and Gioachino Rossini’s “Barber of Seville Overture”. “The Barber of Seville Overture” is a rather difficult piece, it was even considered by the director to possibly be too hard for the band to pull off. However, the band was able to learn it and was prepared to take on concert festival. The performance of “El Capitan” at the event went smoothly, however, the second song would be promptly interrupted by a power outage. After about half an hour of waiting, the band was relocated into a very echoey hallway, where they did a splendid job of playing the overture. The band’s efforts and dedication were rewarded with a score of straight ones from the judges.
This year was very interesting for the jazz band. The members of the jazz band learned a number of songs and improved their improvisation skills, preparing them for the many upcoming concerts throughout the year. The fall concert was a bit strange due to the director of the jazz band, Bill McKee, having to miss it for the first time in his career due to illness. The director of the concert band, Patrick Bolton took over and the performance went smoothly. With its director back in good health, the Spring concert would go even better. Highlights of the year included performances at Lafayette’s Music Room, the Taste of CBHS, and many grade schools around the city.
The 2018 spring concert was yet another fine performance. Both the Purple and Gold Bands performed as well as the 2018 Alumni Band celebrating the 145th anniversary of the oldest high school band in America. The Purple Band’s concert celebrated composers in the band hall fame including McBeth, Holsinger, and Filmore. The Gold Band performed works celebrating the former band directors on the campus including original works by Paul Schneider and Ralph Hale. Soloists included Noah Hubbard on the Strauss “Concerto for Horn No. 1” and Austin Lopez on “Introduction and Samba”. Other works included “The St. Louis Blues” by W.C. Handy, and “Court Square” by Joseph Scianni. The Alumni Band performed last with a solo by David Cook ‘69, the March “5900 Walnut Grove”, and a Premier Performance of “American Scenario” by James Richens. The concert was concluded with the Seniors and Alumni Band performing Bless this House, the Alma Mater, and a rousing Wave War Hymn from all three bands.
The final performance of the year came on Thursday, May 3rd as the band played for the Memorial Street Sign Dedication remembering George Pratt, Jr., long time Dean of Christian Brothers High School. In his memory, the Christian Brothers Band dedicates the 2018 school year.
2018-19 Band Vice-President
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