PHS musicians heading for national festival

The Permian High School Symphonic Band and Percussion Project got a boost from clinician Richard Crain this week as they prepare for their upcoming performance at the Music for All National Festival March 14 through March 16 in Indianapolis.

In his 63rd year in education as a band director and administrator, some of Crain’s recent postings were as band director at schools in Spring ISD and Belton High School. He also has conducted all-state band clinics in Arizona, Arkansas and Alabama and for honor bands throughout Texas.

Crain and his wife helped found Music for All festival and he is currently president of the board of directors of the Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference, which meets annually in Chicago.

“It’s very rewarding because I feel like I’m still giving back to a profession that I love and still, hopefully, impacting kids’ lives in a positive manner through this art/discipline of instrumental music,” Crain said.

This is the third time Crain has come to help out at PHS.

“I love coming to Permian High School because the staff here is so talented and so dedicated. … I enjoy being around these kids. They’re motivated; they’re courteous; they’re hard working; they’re responsive; and they’re just fun and rewarding to be around. I always look forward to coming out here and working Mr. Whitaker and his staff and these terrific young people,” Crain said.

Jeff Whitaker is the director of bands at Permian and is leading the symphonic band.

The selection process to get to the festival is competitive, but once the students get there, it’s a chance for them to listen to other bands from across the nation.

“… Every time they do something, they do it better,” Crain said. “They’re playing at a very high level now. They have a … lengthy program. They have about 40 minutes of actual music, which is very demanding and each of the pieces is different stylistically. They’re doing terrific and they’re going to give a wonderful concert in Indianapolis.”

Associate Director of Bands John Carroll said at least 72 students will take the trip. Some are doing double duty as part of the percussion project and symphonic band, he said.

The percussion ensemble participated in the festival in 2011, Carroll said.  

For this year, both groups’ submitted audition recordings and are invited separate and apart from each other, Carroll said.

The band and percussion musicians began rehearsing for this after marching season.

“Percussion ensemble doesn’t have a class, so we do all our work outside of school,” Carroll said.

“I think both groups are doing outstandingly well, honestly,” he added.

Carroll noted that this will help as the musicians prepare for state contests.

Brianna Galindo, an 18-year-old senior percussionist, said the festival is a great opportunity and a really big honor.

“I know we’ve been working really, really hard for this ever since we found out about,” Galindo said. “We’re having to work a lot faster,” compared to a state contest.

Galindo added that she and fellow musician John Eychaner will be performing in a first honors percussion recital, which includes performance solos, duets and trios.

“We’re performing ‘Catching Shadows’ by Ivan Trevino,” Galindo said.

Justin Slaughter, an 18-year-old senior trombone player, said the groups are going to play more music than they originally intended.

“Getting more literature under your fingers is always good because you will be open for more composers and other writers,” Slaughter said.