Johansen High musicians take a series of musical journeys in a collaborative concert called “Expeditions” being performed at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Gallo Center for the Arts.
The jazz revolution of Duke Ellington, the Lewis and Clark trek west, recovery after the Japan tsunami and the quest in “Lord of the Rings” became history lessons and discussion topics as well as rehearsal pieces for the teens.
“I like the pieces, but also the emotional story behind them. They all have some kind of journey in the story,” said trombonist Raúl Muñoz between rehearsal sets Wednesday.
The Vikings tackle a musical theme each year chosen by performing arts director Brad Hart and social studies teacher Ann Amador. The two pitch the idea to all Johansen teachers to incorporate in classes, a collaborative concept they presented at the 2016 All State Music Educators Conference.
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Muñoz said only one class touched on concert themes, but added it was what he learned studying the pieces that will stick with him.
“This time (the concert) jumps between different areas, different times and cultures,” said Arturo Garcia, who plays alto sax. But at the end of the day, he said, “History’s a journey.”
History’s a journey.
Each year’s concert also gives back, commissioning music pieces and donating to a veteran’s charity last year. This year it paid to present Philip Sparke’s “The Sun Will Rise Again,” which donates proceeds to victims of the 2011 Japanese tsunami that inspired the piece.
The concert starts out with “American Patrol” by Glenn Miller, whose fresh style became a morale booster for troops in World War II. It closes with excerpts from Symphony No.1 from the “Lord of the Rings,” an epic quest that resonates through the ages, Hart said.
As echoes of its grand finale faded Wednesday, flutist Emani Manning, a junior, named this year’s concert her favorite, for the wide-ranging topics and its musical challenge. “These pieces really take a lot of practice, more dedication,” she said.
Last year, World War II tunes played in the “Stars and Stripes” concert and dinner. Local veterans presented the colors. Choral students sang the anthem. Drama students made costumes. Dance students performed and non-music students were readers. Culinary arts students provided dessert.
Collaboration was in full swing in 2015, when the theme of the Roaring ’20s brought French students studying Paris art of the era. Science classes explored technology of the age. Student filmmakers made a silent film as a backdrop.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Johansen High Collaberative Concert “Expeditions”
WHEN: 7 p.m. April 22
WHERE: Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto
INFO: Cost is $12 general, $8 for veterans, students and seniors. Get tickets online at www.galloarts.org or at the box office. Selections include the JHS jazz band playing Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington, and the JHS Concert Band doing excerpts from “The Lord of the Rings.”