RIVERSIDE – The inaugural Riverside County High School Honor Band consisting of 79 students from 19 high schools in 17 Riverside County school districts performed Saturday, Feb. 1, at Palm Springs High School’s Richards Center for the Arts.

Desert Sands Unified School District had two students perform in the High School Honor Band:

  • Angel Ramirez – 3rd Clarinet, Indio High School
  • Nicholas Washburn – 1st Trumpet, Palm Desert High School

Assembling the best high school musicians from across Riverside County was the vision of Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Judy D. White. As part of her commitment to increasing student access to the visual and performing arts, the Riverside County Honor Band will be an annual collection of the top musicians in the region. Acceptance to the all-county band also provides a pathway for students to audition for regional and statewide honor bands.

“Our intent was to have representation from every high school that had students auditioning. As it turns out, every high school that came out for auditions had at least one student who scored high enough with the adjudicators to be accepted to the program based on merit,” said Louisa Higgins, the Arts Administrator from the Riverside County Office of Education. “The experience should be challenging and rewarding for students as they strive to play new and high level music, travel and meet and make new friends, and perform for a public audience that is out of their normal school or district setting.

Several students from the Palm Springs Unified School District qualified to perform in the High School Honor Band. They are:

  •  Aaron Wolf , 2nd Trombone; Ernest Lopez, 2nd Trombone; Lisette Alverdin, 3rd Flute;             Emily Sosa, Flute (Alternate); Lilian Vay, Tuba; Brian Linares, Tuba; Kayla De Guzman, 1st Oboe; and Fernando Garbuño, Oboe (Alternate) all from Cathedral City High School
  • Vasti Andrade, Tenor Saxophone; and Marcos Herrera, Percussion, both from Desert Hot Springs High School
Riverside County High School Honor Band Debuts

Aaron Wolf

Playing 2nd trombone in the first-ever Riverside County High School Honor Band is Aaron Wolf, a junior at Cathedral City High School (Palm Springs USD). Aaron is involved in his school’s jazz band and several other southern California-area honor bands.

Aaron participated in the auditions for the inaugural Riverside County Honor Band last fall. At the auditions, students performed 5-minute solos and showcased their rhythm, high tone quality, dynamics, and overall musicality.

At the inaugural concert, Aaron will be playing with several students from his school’s band, but also with students with whom he will have only rehearsed a few times before their performance this week.

“I see music as a universal language that has the power to bring people together,” Aaron said.

The honor band ensemble will be directed by Kevin McKeown. McKeown is the conductor of the wind ensembles at the University of California, Irvine, and Santa Monica College.

Aaron looks forward to having new conductors at the honor bands because he believes every conductor teaches him something new and appreciates their different perspectives on music.

Aaron has been drawn to music for as long as he can remember. He picked up his first instrument when he was in the 6th grade. The students that first heard him play the trombone encouraged him to explore his natural talent and learn how to play it accordingly.

In eighth grade, his band director assured Aaron that he was ready to step out of his comfort zone and should audition for the All Southern California Honor Band. His acceptance into that band gave him the confidence to continue pursuing his musical passion.

Aaron’s inspiration is his grandmother, even though he is the first in his family to exhibit an interest in musical performance. He admires her life experiences and her ability to overcome hardships. His grandmother has always supported his musical journey both financially and emotionally—which he knows can be expensive.

Aaron’s favorite part of being a musician is the ability to inspire emotions through his performances. He looks forward to making the audience stop and think when they are listening to the performance and desires that the audience scratch below the surface level and find a connection on a deeper personal level.

“As a musician you can pull people’s heart strings in a way that virtually nothing else can do the same,” Aaron said.

Aaron is certain he will keep music in his life as he grows older. Beyond music, he enjoys playing basketball and aspires to serve in the military and become a U.S. Navy Seal.

Photo caption above: Nicholas (Nick) Washburn performs a solo at the Feb. 1 concert of the Riverside County Honor Band.


Image Sources

  • Aaron Wolf: Riverside County Office of Education
  • img_4580: DSUSD