Carnevil: Musicianship, leadership, and friendship

During Wednesday’s performance, the Los Al marching ensemble showcased their three-movement song “Carnevil” for friends and family.


Jason Khan

Students enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their months-long effort to loved ones.

Jason Khan, Staff Writer

LOS ALAMITOS, CA — “It’s kind of like…watching a flower blossom…all of a sudden you turn around and there’s this remarkable thing in front of you,” commented Mr. Paul Crockett, director of bands.

The Los Al marching band performed in tandem with the color guard during Wednesday’s showcase. Ezekiel Lanser, music arranger and percussion director, started developing the song for the band show by utilizing some musical elements from a tone poem by a 19th-century composer named Camille Saint-Saëns.

“There’s all these different quotations of pop music and orchestra music and original music…we arrange the music specifically for the marching show,” Mr. Crockett remarked. The show’s title originated from design plans; the composing team started with the inspiration of the circus, which transitioned into a carnival concept.

“Then, all of a sudden, it becomes nighttime…when the park closes, all the rides and the creatures and the characters come alive,” Mr. Crockett said.

He noted the significance of student leadership from seniors in the program. Staff leadership is also vital, working as a team to bring the different sections together. For the fall semester, the ensemble has practiced every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after the sixth period, with sessions fully commencing at 4 p.m. From this point on, drills and training usually last two and a half hours. Upon the beginning of the second semester, competition season ends, and the course transitions into being an indoor drumline. Usually, in late fall, the marching band staff begins to plan out the course of action for the next year’s show; the process takes 6-7 months, with students being notified of the theme toward the middle of spring and practice beginning in August. The competition performance of “Carnevil” is the culmination of nearly a year’s worth of effort.

“There’s math, there’s science…there’s athleticism involved, there’s a lot of components,” Mr. Crockett posited.

Students must memorize their position with x and y coordinates on the field at any given time during the show, they must learn the acoustics of the outside environment, and they must each possess excellent hand-eye coordination, among other things. The marching ensembles are treated as a symphony-quality production that walks.

“Hearing your score after all that work is the best feeling ever!” said Dominic Alberico, bass three, freshman, about competitions; Alberico enjoys giving total effort and dedication to practice. He also finds that piecing together rhythms from easier notes can help to learn a song. He relays that he mostly struggles with concentration as well as a better understanding of the intricacies of his instrument.

“My favorite part about marching practice is…the people I’ve met through the program,” stated Lucy Rios, a freshman flutist for the marching band. Rios appreciates the opportunity to interact with upperclassmen.

“…everyone is trying their hardest on the material,” she declared; in her experience, this show atmosphere makes marching band performances greatly enjoyable. Rios believes practicing the most difficult measures of a song is a good way to build skill; furthermore, she mentioned the importance of breath control. She finds the most difficult sections of the song where only the woodwinds are featured: “I struggled with going up a chromatic scale to a high A flat.” Rios added that last Wednesday’s performance was her favorite one of the year.

Kellen Murphy, freshman bass one, enjoys improving his musicianship and tackling the complexities of his music. He noted that staff serves as a big help during warm-ups, while practicing, and while learning show music. Murphy finds difficulty with keeping good footwork while carrying his drum; it weighs 20 pounds. Murphy commented that the third act, which features some partial splits on 16th notes, is the most challenging part of the show song.

Mr. Crockett chose to give a shout-out to the lead drum major, Young Dokgo, a senior:

“He’s been a very good role model as far as what a leader should be, what dedication to the program looks like, what quality of a marching band student we look for.”

The marching band has been performing competitively since early October; they will be competing in the Western Band Association Division 3A marching band championships at Chaffey High on Nov. 19 and 20, 2022.