Soaring vocal harmonies and instrumental masterpieces danced their way through the rafters of the Ramona High School gymnasium Saturday night at the 3rd Annual All-District Concert, entertaining a packed house, all in attendance to support the community’s music students and teachers who make up the various music departments at Ramona’s public schools.
Admission was free as nearly 500 Ramona Unified School Distirct students, representing eight of the district’s 10 schools, came together to perform a wide array of musical pieces — from the Ramona High School Symphonic Band’s upbeat and stirring rendition of “Pas Redouble” and the thunderous vocal display when the Olive Peirce Middle School Girls Ensemble shook the crowd with Greg Gilpin’s “Lightening” to the snappy “Harlem Nocturne” by Ramona High’s Royal Blues Band. The concert featured performances from the Ramona High School Symphonic Band, the Elementary Honor Band, the Olive Peirce Middle School Wind Ensembles, the Ramona High School Royal Blues Jazz Band, the Olive Peirce Middle School Jazz Band, the Ramona High School Madrigals and Women’s Ensemble, the Olive Peirce Middle School Mixed Chorus and Girls Ensemble, the Combined All-District Elementary Choir (Grades 4-6) and the Combined All-District Choir (Grades 4-12).
The night concluded with an emotional finale of “America the Beautiful,” performed by the bands and choirs, with many singing along in the crowd.
The groups were in rehearsals for weeks before the event, and even the day of the event saw many last-minute preparations, concluding with a group dinner to kick off the evening.
Master of ceremonies for the evening was RUSD Superintendent Bob Graeff, a music aficionado and former music teacher. Graeff said that the purpose of the event was to showcase the local musicians, and to show the community a sample of the students’ talent, both vocally and instrumentally.
Another benefit to the evening, he said, was the opportunity for the younger students to see their older peers perform. That continuity, he said, shows the younger students that they will have a future in music, and helps them maintain a love for music. That statement drew a standing ovation from the crowd.
Graeff found more applause when he announced that, although the Ramona district faces the budget concerns faced by districts throughout the state, there will be no cuts in the district’s music programs.
Stephen Brindley, president-elect of the Ramona Rotary Club, was not only in attendance, but was asked at the last minute to fill in on the giant bongo drum to accompany the OPMS Mixed Chorus for its version of “Like the Beat of the Drum.”
“Look around,” he said. “Look at the excitement on the faces of these students. It’s great to see their talent levels growing.”
The “thank you” note on the program for the concert read: “A very special thank you to those parents of music students who provide the resources to support instruments and lessons, who transport students to concerts and after-school rehearsals, who assist in supervision and continual fundraising efforts, who remind students to practice and learn their music, and who truly understand the extraordinary value that music plays in the daily lives of young people in our schools.”