More band stories

Porterville High School Panther Band - concerts, etc.

Brought crowd to its feet

By Esther Avila, The Porterville Recorder
May 16, 2005 - 9:00AM
photo by Esther Avila

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 him.

Shaffer sat in the audience, his face beaming as he spoke of the Panther band.

"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 agree.

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.


Patriotic theme at spring concert

By Esther Avila, The Porterville Recorder

May 3, 2004 9:00 AM

PORTERVILLE -- Against an orange and green spotlighted background, the Porterville Panther Band once again brought a full house to their feet Friday night with their traditional trademark - a grand finale of "Stars and Stripes Forever" at the Buck Shaffer Theater at the Porterville Memorial Auditorium during their 14th annual spring concert under the direction of Jim Kusserow.

Promising a musical spectacular, the Panther Band did not appear to let anyone down as Veterans of American armed forces proudly stood while the song from their military branch of the service - from "Caissons," "Anchors Aweigh," "Marines Hymn" and "Wild Blue Yonder" was played by the band and United States Representatives took their spot on the stage with their military flags.

This was followed by an explosion of applause and standing ovations as a giant United States flag unfurled and the Orange Blossoms and flag team marched down center and side aisles to "Stars and Stripes Forever."

"The traditional finale to the Panther Band concert is a tribute not to glorify war, but to honor those who have paid the supreme sacrifice in the duty of serving their country," said announcer Dan Hoover. "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."

The band paid tribute to great composers from around the world, staring with "Arsenal" by Yan Van der Roost and followed by Gustav Holst's "Mars" featuring Matthew Brest on euphonium.

First chair flute player Lauren Hayes was featured during the performance of "Concertino for Flute" while John Barnes Cances' "Variations on a Korean Folk Song" showcased various soloists.

The recognizable Orange Blossoms, who spell out PORTERVILLE! on their marching uniforms, were also given a spot under the lights and each senior Orange Blossom was presented with a rose before the concert continued.

"We haven't forgotten that audiences love marches," Hoover said. "In the grand Italian tradition, we close the first portion of our program with the great march of 'The Florentiner March' by Julius Fiuchik."

After returning to their seats, the crowd enjoyed another John Phillip Sousa march, "Sabre and Spurs," complete with bugle calls coming from the trumpet section of the band.

Porterville High School principal Steve Graybehl then presented the Frank Howard Awards to outstanding band students, including outstanding musical contribution to the Panther Band to Patricia Torres, clarinet; Daniel Ledesma, alto saxophone; Kyle Childers and Graham Jones, percussion; and Brent Quatacker, baritone saxophone.

The winner of the Frank Howard Student Award was Lauren Hayes.

The senior awards were presented to the first chairs in their respective sections: Matthew Brest, euphonium; Johanna Barde, mallets; Anna Catano, French horn; Kym Maples, bass clarinet; Devine Rojas, percussion; Liliana Juarez, bassoon; Lauren Hayes, flute; and Jose Angeles, tuba.

Service awards were presented to: band members Anna Catano, Jennifer Nacianceno, Karen Mendoza; Orange Blossoms Brieann Trueblood, Sabrina Young, Andrea Razo, Krisha Copeland, Shawna Vanderstole, Stephanie Anderson, Claudia Gonzalez, Aprilyn Soliman; and majorette Mindi Mason.

Several other awards, flower bouquets and tokens of appreciation were awarded to others, including to Kusserow and his wife Kellie, and to Lynn Enos, auxiliary director; to Randy and Denise Young, dedicated band members; and a final award to a 'one-man tornado,' Dr. Ramon Resa, for his organization and dedication to raising $100,000 in funds for the new band uniforms.

The concert continued with student Elizabeth South featured on oboe during Eric Whitacre's "October."

And the crowd stood on their feet following the band's performance of "Phantom of the Opera'" featuring various musical soloists and the vocals of Lauren Hayes and Kyle Childers.

The previously-mentioned grand finale brought the concert to an end.

Buck Shaffer stood proudly in the auditorium, clapping and admiring his follower.

"I'm very proud of what Jim Kusserow is doing," Shaffer said. "He's done an excellent job."

This story was published in The Porterville Recorder on May 3, 2004