PORTERVILLE -- Seven simple words. That's all it
took for the near-capacity crowd gathered for the annual Porterville High
School Panther Band Spring Concert to explode into a standing ovation
Saturday night. "We are going to the Rose Parade," Panther Band drum major
Felipe Ybarra announced after opening an envelope handed to him by Janet
Whaley, music committee member with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, just
before intermission at the Frank "Buck" Shaffer Theater inside the
Porterville Memorial Auditorium. Whaley traveled from Pasadena
specifically for the announcement.
"On Jan. 1, 2007, (the Porterville Panther Band) will take a five and a
half mile stroll down Colorado Avenue in Pasadena to an audience of
millions," Whaley said. "The band also has the distinction of being the
very first band selected for the 2007 tournament."
Panther band director Jim Kusserow then announced that the band will also
play at Lincoln Center in New York City in June 2006, and thanked former
Panther band director Buck Shaffer for the great qualities instilled in
Shaffer sat in the audience, his face beaming as he spoke of the Panther
"I'm very proud of Jim and the band and that they'll be performing in
Pasadena. They work hard and it has been long overdue," Shaffer said after
the concert. "They'll be great representatives of California and the
nation. I talked to the people from Pasadena. They were very pleased and
proud of their selection. The concert was exceptional. They played some
very difficult music and the band sounded great."
Judging by the crowd's response during the concert, they all seemed to
With Doug Scarbrough as emcee, the evening featured a variety of band
music from some of the world's greatest composers.
For the first time under Kusserow's direction, the band performed Peter
Tchaikovsky's "Marche Slav" - a selection described by Scarbrough as an
exciting piece of music, showing off Tchaikovsky's talent for taking folk
tunes and turning them into fully orchestrated masterpieces.
The band's performance of "Cowboys" by John Williams was an obvious
audience favorite, resulting in a standing ovation. The music from the
John Wayne movie is regularly performed by State Honor Bands, as well as
college bands throughout the nation.
The second half of the concert began with a tribute to the late television
show host Lawrence Welk, featuring several young musicians during
"Bubbling Woodwinds," before finally ending with the traditional finale of
a Porterville Panther Band concert.
"Tonight's finale is dedicated to the Americans who lost their lives in
all wars, to the brave troops who have returned to our homeland from
battle and to the honorable men and women who are serving in Iraq,
Afghanistan and around the world at this time," Scarbrough said.
The military-branch songs of "Caissons," "Anchors Aweigh," "Marines' Hymn"
"Wild Blue Yonder" and "Coast Guard" followed, with representatives of the
United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard walking
on stage with their respective flags.
The Panther Band then went straight into John Phillip Sousa's "Stars and
Stripes Forever," ending with the entrance of the Orange Blossoms,
majorettes and all the color guard marching down center and side aisles of
the auditorium as a huge American flag was displayed on stage - once again
bringing the audience to its feet in mighty applause.