Vista Murrieta High band celebrates award with concert

Under the direction of Donald Wade, the Wind Ensemble I of the Vista Murrieta High School band performed Thursday night. Murrieta 24/7 ph...

Under the direction of Donald Wade, the Wind Ensemble I of the Vista Murrieta High School band performed Thursday night.
Murrieta 24/7 photos: Doug Spoon

The Vista Murrieta High School band, one of the most decorated high school bands in the nation, entertained the audience with a stirring selection of songs Thursday night, capped by its acceptance of another prestigious award.

At the conclusion of the performance by the Wind Ensemble I of the 360-member band, the school was recognized as a winner of the John Philip Souza Foundation's Sudler Shield Award. An award recognizing high school, youth and international marching bands of world class excellence, it has been presented to only 80 bands around the world since its creation in 1987. Vista Murrieta was one of two schools honored in the U.S. large schools category for 2016.

Bands audition through videotapes sent to the Sudler Shield Foundation, which convenes every year to judge schools from around the world, said W. Dale Warren, a professor of music at the University of Arkansas and chairman of the Sudler Shield Award Committee. In presenting the award following Thursday's performance, he said that Vista Murrieta was one of only five schools to receive the award in 2016.

"Through their various achievements and accomplishments, the Vista Murrieta High School band has earned the reputation as one of the premier high school bands in all of America," Warren told the audience. "Despite being only 14 years old, Vista Murrieta bands have an impressive resume of very impressive accomplishments.

"Here at Vista Murrieta, they take their motto of 'Building people through performance' very seriously."

Donald Wade, who developed the music program at Vista Murrieta when the school first opened in 2003, and Brent Levine, who came to the school in 2010, received high praise for their leadership of the band program, as did the students.

"I've watched this program grow, even in the four years I've been here," said principal Nick Wager. "Even though it was already incredible four years ago, it continues to grow and thrive and get better. It's an amazing achievement.

"With his incredible passion and dedication to the program, he has changed countless lives for the better," Wager said about Wade. "And it's a well known fact here at Vista Murrieta that our hardest working and most dedicated students are those in the Golden Alliance."

The musical performances included songs composed by Sousa, including "Songs of Grace and Songs of Glory" and "I've Made my Plans for the Summer," which featured vocal soloists Jillian Rawlins and Boppie Mitchell (left), who are also members of the band. The Leroy Anderson composition "Clarinet Candy" featured the 10 members of the clarinet section in a difficult and enthusiastic range of the musical scale.

Other songs included "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever," led by guest conductor Staff Sgt. Jeremy Matt of the U.S. Marine Corps and featuring Jenielle Salarda, Hannah Bundrant, Katrina Meier and Jillian Rawlins on the piccolo.

To watch a recorded version of Murrieta 24/7's Live broadcast (in two parts) of the concert, visit the Murrieta 24/7 Facebook page.

Members of the band's clarinet section were featured in Leroy Anderson's "Clarinet Candy".

A trombone solo by a Vista Murrieta alumnus brightened a performance of Arthur Pryor's "Thoughts of Love".

W. Dale Warren of the Sudler Shield Award committee presented plaques to student and faculty band leaders.

Band director Donald Wade and Vista Murrieta High principal Nick Wager addressed the audience.

Four band members from the flute section were featured during "The Stars and Stripes Forever" while playig piccolo.

"The Stars and Stripes Forever" was conducted by guest conductor Staff Sgt. Jeremy Matt of the U.S. Marine Corps.


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