Bleachers will be alive with the sound of music at CHS

The instrumental music programs of El Roble Intermediate and Claremont High School will present their second annual community concert on Saturday, September 27 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the CHS stadium.
The al fresco show, “Under the Lights.” which is free and open to the public, will feature appearances by the CHS Jazz Ensemble, the El Roble String Orchestra, the El Roble Marching Panthers, the CHS Orchestra and the CHS Marching Wolfpack, accompanied by the high school’s color guard.  
The program, coordinated by music director Melanie Riley-Gonzales, features everything from classical music, with the El Roble String Orchestra performing “Autumn” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to rock music, with the CHS Orchestra undertaking a rendition of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive.” The CHS Marching Wolfpack will hearken to the space age with tunes like the themes from Star Trek Generations and the videogame “Halo.”
Ms. Riley-Gonzales has become an instrumental part (pun intended) of the music programs at Claremont’s secondary schools. Last year, she took on the orchestra and marching bands at El Roble in addition to those at the high school, and this year she has taken the reins of the CHS Jazz Ensemble.
“It’s a lot, but I love it. It’s a lot of fun and I enjoy the kids,” Ms. Riley-Gonzales said. “I like to add new things each year. It keeps me motivated. It keeps me going.”
Having a big performance near the start of the school year is a great way to get the band kids going, she noted.
“For the high school band, we perform at the football games but there are so many other things going on, it’s kind of distracting. This is an opportunity for them to shine,” she said. “The El Roble kids, especially the orchestra, spend most of their time practicing. It’s fun to perform in front of other people and show what you have learned.”
Ms. Riley-Gonzales hopes lots of people show up at this weekend’s concert and that they come to see the bands play again at their spring concert.
“I love the idea that the community can come out and see how the kids are at the beginning of the year and where they are at the end of the year,” she said. “There’s so much improvement. It’s night and day.”
Thanks to active recruiting at the elementary schools, as well as at El Roble, the 7th through 12th grade programs are having their own transformation. Ms. Riley-Gonzales took a 40-student cap off the music classes at El Roble this year. As a result, the orchestra now has 45 eager participants, while the band boasts 54 students.
Nearly all of the 8th graders Ms. Riley-Gonzales taught last year have continued with music as they embark on their high school careers. The CHS marching band has 78 musicians, and the orchestra has 45. The jazz band has 33 members, who on Saturday will fill the CHS stadium with the sounds of classics like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
Ms. Riley-Gonzales knows what it’s like to be a band student as well as an instructor.
“In our school, the instrumental program didn’t start until 5th grade. I started in 5th grade and fell in love with the flute, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
This weekend’s show will also offer attendees the opportunity to support music in the Claremont Unified School District, with a chance to participate in the CHS music program’s annual Take Note Fundraiser and to buy tickets for the Claremont Educational Foundation’s yearly Prius raffle.
—Sarah Torribio


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