Musical honors


Reflecting years of hard work, Diamond Bar High School’s music program had 31 student musicians selected to participate in the annual All-State California Honor Band and Orchestra convention.

The event was scheduled to take place at the Fresno Convention Center in early March, where workshops, opportunities to meet established conductors and musicians and the chance to rehearse and perform with other top-ranked musicians was planned. Due to COVID-19, this year’s convention will take place online. 

“The approach to preparation is the same as every year, with the students individually preparing their scales and pieces with the help of their private teachers and directors,” music director Steve Acciani said via email. It is our responsibility to keep the systems and the priorities that we have established, such as emphasizing great individual playing, in place.” 

For sophomore Bryan Chiu, a french horn player, attending All-State has been an opportunity to grow and improve in terms of composing and playing. 

“From my past experience at CASMEC, being surrounded by high-level musicians, be that student or instructor, has helped me grow as a person and a player.”

In order to attend the coveted event, students went through a two-part audition process. While these normally take place in person, this year they were conducted online. Preparation became especially difficult after school closed down and prohibited in-person gathering. Without the precise guidance of in-person music tutoring or a clear microphone or camera, feedback was much harder to give.

Practice for the concert will also be more difficult, with the organization confirming just two rehearsal dates instead of a full week of playing together.

“My preparation for All-State hasn’t really changed, but it’s harder to get feedback from other people on how to change and improve,” sophomore and bass clarinet player Joseph Wangsa said. “The audition process has also stayed the same, but there isn’t a second round of auditions that normally take place after we arrive on location. We used to have a week of rigorous practicing, but I’m not sure what we’re going to be able to get out of two days.”

Auditions this year consisted of uploading recordings of scales and audition pieces into a Google Drive folder and sending them to CASMEC. The standards set by the organization make acceptance into the program a distinguished accomplishment for both a musician and the program they study in. 

“They’re all fantastic players. It’s the largest amount of any high school in the state to make it. Normally we’re only allowed to submit 20 recordings but they waived that rule this year, so it’s the highest amount we have had,” Acciani said.