Santa Fe Christian Schools’ (SFC) very own Eagle Band had the incredible opportunity to perform at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts center, considered to be one of the 20th century’s most famous and distinctive buildings. The Eagle Band had the honor of performing at this prestigious venue on June 22, 2018, alongside the Linfield Christian School band from Temecula and the Shire Christian School band, a host school in Australia. Their group (the Pan-Pacific Winds, totaling 65 musicians) performed a variety of pieces, including an original composition ¾ a piece titled “Return” ¾ which was written and conducted by SFC 10th-grader, Kevin Charoensri. David Hall, SFC’s Band Director, stated that Charoensri’s piece was the most challenging of the pieces performed at the Sydney Opera House, and that when the band finished his piece, they received a standing ovation.
ABOUT KEVIN CHAROENSRI:
Composer, pianist, synthesist, clarinetist and musical conductor: Charoensri is a multi-talented Eagle Band member. Charoensri started playing piano at 5 years old and began playing clarinet at 11 years old. When he was 10, he started teaching himself to play movie soundtracks on the piano. He was inspired by the soundtracks because they had stories and emotions behind them. When Kevin was in 6th grade at SFC, he composed his very first song: “Return.”
Fast-forward three years; Charoensri’s original piece is being performed by his fellow Eagle Band members at one of the most notable concert halls in the world for an audience of 2,000. Reflecting upon the experience, Charoensri said, “I was pretty nervous at first, but once I got up to that podium and picked up the baton and started conducting, within 4 seconds it just felt like any other rehearsal or performance. All 2,000 people just faded away and I was just back to sharing a story.”
Indeed, the story behind “Return” is a symbolic one, as the song name references the band’s first-ever trip to Sydney in 1999. Charoensri’s inspiration for the composition was the idea that every story, every episode, and everything in life starts somewhere, and takes a different journey. “But no matter what you go through — whether that’s happiness, joy, sadness, loss, heartbreak — you always end up back in the same place: at the beginning, with the core of who you are, whether its passions, people, or your story,” Charoensri said.
At the end of every song I conduct, including Return, I make sure to look at every player in the eye and genuinely say ‘Thank you’ to everyone who put life into my hard work.”
“For me, it felt good to move others through my music and truly perform for their enjoyment and to inspire others.”
In regards to SFC’s involvement in getting to this level, Charoensri credits SFC for providing him with a platform, alongside an uplifting, supportive, Christian environment for him to follow his musical passions. David Hall, SFC’s Eagle band director, had been Charoensri’s mentor for the past 4 years, and gave Charoensri the opportunity to write music for the school band, play for the concert band and pep band, and to perform in the school’s musical (Mary Poppins) in the orchestra pit.
ABOUT THE EAGLE BAND:
Last year, SFC 8th-graders in the Middle School Brigade Band had a stellar performance at the 2017 ACSI Band Festival at Linfield Christian School. Doug Knechtel, the Band Director at Linfield and Host of the ACSI Festival, was very impressed with their performance. He notified David Hall, SFC’s Band Director, that Linfield was considering performing at the 2018 Youth Musicale at the Sydney Opera House and requested that SFC accompany them.
When SFC returned from the 2017 ACSI Festival (with a unanimous “Superior” rating from the judges ¾ the highest rating possible), Hall got the word out to the parents and students about the opportunity to join Linfield in 2018 to perform at the Sydney Opera House. After much prayer and meetings with the organizers of the 2018 Sydney Opera House Youth Musicale, SFC had gained enough interest to officially pursue the performance.
Hall notes that the students prepared for this trip through years of practicing their instruments and rehearsing at a high level, which enabled them to be well-prepared for a performance of this magnitude. Each piece the Band performed at the Sydney Opera House was practiced and rehearsed beginning last Spring and was performed either at the Spring Band Concert or the Band Pop’s Concert.
The band is an ongoing legacy at SFC that Hall has been leading since 1992. “First and foremost, I want my musicians to come away with a love for the Lord and glorify Him in everything they do. The incredible thing about the program is that students of the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools can join in the group,” Hall said.
In the Lower School, fifth-grade students can be a part of the Cadet band. In Middle School, they can move onto the Battalion band, and finally, in the Upper School, they can be a part of the Eagle band. “I want to give them the opportunity to have an emotional outlet and be able to convey their thoughts and feelings through music,” Mr. Hall stated. “There is power in music.”
How does one get involved in the Eagle Band and why they should get involved? The Eagle Band is the school’s top Upper School Band and requires advanced concert band skills. To get into the Eagle Band a student would need to progress through our band program and/or perform at the advanced High School level. They would enroll in the US Concert Band (aka the Eagle Band) class. We usually have a number of advanced 8th graders that are allowed in this Upper School ensemble due to their expertise and the Eagle Band’s need for their instrumental involvement.
Students that desire to perform ministry through instrumental music should take this class because they will daily exercise their skills to a level that makes them proficient musicians. This enables them to be more effective in making the type of music that has the ability to move and inspire others. Students receive the joy of being a part of a group dedicated to performing music of excellence. As an added benefit study after study has shown that playing a musical instrument enhances brain function.