High School Bands Compete, Perform with Marines at Golden Gate Park

High School Bands Compete, Perform with Marines at Golden Gate Park

SSgt Benjamin J. Hallquist, a musician with the 1st Marine Division Band, conducts Marine and High School musicians during the Annual San Francisco Fleet Week High School Band Challenge at Golden Gate Park's Band Shell, Oct. 12, 2015 as part of San Francisco Fleet Week 2015. Marines from 12th Marine Corps Recruiting District and 1st Marine Division Band evaluated eight high school bands in the San Francisco Bay area on their accuracy and professionalism during their respective performances. Photo by Sgt Terence Brady.

SAN FRANCISCO (October 13, 2015) – Bands from across San Francisco Bay area participated in the annual San Francisco Fleet Week High School Band Challenge Oct. 12, 2015, at Golden Gate Park's Band Shell, as part of San Francisco Fleet Week 2015.

The event, co-hosted by Marine Corps Recruiting Station San Francisco, 12th Marine Corps Recruiting District and the San Francisco Fleet Week Association, provides the bands an opportunity to compete head-to-head and to perform with the 1st Marine Division Band.

The bands were judged based on criteria that evaluates the bands' capabilities as a whole, according to SSgt Mark Pellon, the music placement director with 12th Marine Corps Recruiting District.

"It breaks down from tenaciousness, rhythmic accuracy, and overall visual effect," said Pellon. "There's a whole list of categories that were trying to evaluate while the performance is going on."

The criteria used are similar to the evaluations that are used on potential Marine Musicians, added Pellon. 

"Were essentially using the same criteria for the entire band that I would use on a single individual on their one instrument if they were auditioning," said Pellon. "The major difference is that today these high schools are coming here with prepared music, whereas in an audition to come into the Marine band you have to bring prepared material then you have to play all of your scales as well as sight read music that they've never seen."

The competition was also an opportunity for the musicians to see what the Marine Corps would be looking for if they wanted to join, and an opportunity to interact with recruiters from the area, according to Danzel Wright, a musician with the Phillip Burton High School Band.

"I liked this event because it brings all the other bands together to compete," said Wright. "I think its cool to get together and see what the Marine Corps Band is all about and it shows what they can do if someone wanted to join."

After the competition, the bands joined the 1st Marine Division Band to play music during the final performance of the event. 

"The musicians that are coming here to compete are showing a lot of the principals that we look for in Marines and also Marine musicians," said Pellon. "They're dedicated to what they are doing, committed to their programs, and are going above and beyond what's asked of them as high school students. 

"This is a great place to look for the kind of character the Marine Corps is looking for as well as the Marine Music Program."

The Santa Teresa High School Band earned first place for their performance, followed by Benicia High School in second and Mt. Eden High School in third.

"I think there was some really high level musical programs here," said Pellon. "All of them came trying to win, and it was a really tight race from calculating all of the judges scores so overall I think they did a really good job."

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