The award-winning Palisades High School marching band has 75 students, who not only entertain at halftime of home football games, but also compete in the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association (SCSBOA) circuit. In addition, the band has been a mainstay in the Pacific Palisades Fourth of July parade the past 10 years.
This season, so far, the Dolphins have placed second at two competitions in the 2A division. (The SCSBOA classification is based on the total number of woodwinds, brass and percussion and is based on the group’s enrollment at the first competition.)
Five judges score the bands on music performance (sound-tuning and technique) and musicianship, repertoire effectiveness, performance effectiveness and visual composition and excellence.
This year’s band had 17 seniors with experience. “They have done a fantastic job of being excellent role models for all of our younger members,” said Tyler Farrell, the school’s new director of bands. He replaced Alex Dale this year, who had taken over a revitalized program from Arwen Hernandez.
Farrell grew up in a small town in North Carolina and received his bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He worked as the director of bands at Garner Magnet High School in North Carolina from 2014-2017, before attending graduate school at UCLA.
The competitive field show this year is called “Effigy” and features “The New Moon in the Old Moon’s Arms” by Michae Kamen, “Wicked Games” by Chris Isaak, and “No One Mourns the Wicked” by Stephen Schwartz from the hit Broadway musical “Wicked.”
Every year band directors must come up with a new marching program and Farrell was asked how this one was selected.
“The staff starts brainstorming potential concept ideas, music visual ideas,” he said. “We pitch a lot of ideas to each other at meetings and collaborate to design a whole conceptual package for the students. For this year’s show, we knew we wanted to have a darker show to break out of the traditional shows Pali has performed in the past.
“We then started discussing ‘dark’ themes and eventually landed with witchcraft/the occult,” Farrell said. “We then drafted a conceptual ‘story’ to pace out the show and picked music that fit both the story and the overall dark/occult themes.”
He has nothing but praise for his students. “They are working very hard and the entire staff is excited to see continued growth over the rest of our season.”
The Palisades staff includes Jeremy Miller (percussion director), Sean McDermott (visual design), Mike Schlotter (front ensemble technician) and Alison Wyant (choreography and design).
The PCHS band program, which includes the symphonic band, the wind ensemble, the color guard and the drumline, is home to 90 students.
Like most extracurricular activities at a public school, competition fees, equipment truck rentals, instrument repairs, festival fees, music and transportation to shows is provided mostly through parent donations. If you would like to contribute to the band program, a tax deductible check may be mailed to Palisades Charter High School, Attn. Band Programs, 15777 Bowdoin St., Pacific Palisades, CA 90272.