Music Programs Thrive at Local High Schools
Music programs benefit participants as well as the community audiences who turn out to enjoy the various performances offered by area schools. Conejo Valley high schools, including Newbury Park High School, Oaks Christian School, Thousand Oaks High School and Westlake High School, offer a wide array of high-quality music programs with several performances throughout the year.
Newbury Park High School
At Newbury Park High School, Director John Sargent heads the choral program, featuring five primary performance ensembles: Concert Choir, Panther Chamber Singers, Women’s Ensemble, Men’s Chorus and Advanced Women’s Ensemble. Dedicated to the success and growth of the students, “Sarge” oversees some 100+ participants, scheduling performances throughout the year at community and special events, including an annual trip to compete with choirs throughout the state and country. This year’s trip to Nashville, Tennessee, will provide students with a firsthand look at Nashville’s rich musical heritage.
“John Sargent is one of the biggest inspirations in my life,” says Advanced Women’s Ensemble member Madeline (Red) Weiss. “He teaches us about the goal and focus being to inspire an audience.” Newbury Park High School students who enjoy band and expressing themselves through instrumental music can participate in Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band and Marching Band, led by Director Dennis Crystal. The Honors-level Wind Ensemble requires auditions and the highly competitive Marching Band provides a wonderful way to develop musicianship. The Jazz Band comprises big band instruments, including saxophones, trombones, trumpets, pianos, guitars and drums.
The Newbury Park High School Orchestra program offers classes for beginning to honors-level musicians. The String Orchestra has consistently earned Superior ratings at the Southern California Band and Orchestra Festival and will be performing at California’s very own Segerstorm Concert Hall in March 2017 as part of the prestigious Heritage Festival of Gold.
Oaks Christian High School
Oaks Christian High School is home to three choral ensembles led by Edward Rouse. Inspired by the theory that every student has a unique voice, Oaks Christian’s assortment of music groups explore a wide variety of styles. Advanced Women’s Chorus, Oaks Chorale and OC Voices make up the choral music department with intensity and passion.
Directing the High School Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Pep Band and Drum Line, Director Ryan Kelly utilizes his extensive experience, passion and love for music to inspire students to learn their craft and play music as best as they possibly can.
The Oaks Christian Orchestra, directed by Mary Kay Altizer, features an array of strings, including violin, viola, cello and bass. Performing throughout the school year, the orchestra covers styles from Baroque, classical and contemporary to rock, jazz and alternative music.
A Guitar program taught by Joe Diblasi offers three levels of instruction, ranging from beginning to advanced levels in classical, flamenco, rock, jazz, country and pop. Diblasi uses his experience working as a studio guitar player to educate students about the technical aspects and provide insight and education into the music business.
“Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. But attitude determines how well you do it,” Diblasi concludes.
Thousand Oaks High School
At Thousand Oaks High School, the choral ensembles, led by Janna Santangelo, are audition-only and students perform at several concerts, competitions and events throughout the school year. The Concert Choir, Mixed Choir and Vocal Ensemble Honors programs provide valuable and precise vocal training for students. Each group acts as a stepping stone to the next, equipping students with the tools and performing experience to help them become successful singers.
Recognized as one of the best in the state, Thousand Oaks High School’s award-winning band program offers many opportunities to perform and compete throughout the school year. Wind Ensemble, Wind Symphony and Jazz Band consistently perform at peak levels, receiving frequent honors and awards. The Marching Band comprises brass, woodwind and percussion instruments and performs with the school’s Color Guard to showcase dramatic exhibitions in a field performance.
Westlake High School
Celebrating its 32nd year of choral excellence, Westlake High School’s choral program offers six ensembles: Freshman Chorus, Mixed Chorale, Women’s Chorale and Vocal Ensemble, A Class Act and Men’s Ensemble, led by Choral Director Alan Rose. Ranging from the beginning stages of development for younger singers to the advanced honing and perfecting of more mature voices, WHS’s choral programs offer the opportunity for every singer to be involved. Most courses fulfill the requirements for the UC system, creating an advantage for students planning to continue their music education in college. Regular performances held throughout the year are eagerly anticipated by the community.
Westlake High School also offers a wide selection of band programs: The Wind Ensemble, Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Orchestra Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble perform throughout the year, in addition to competing in district and regional competitions. Westlake also offers five string ensembles at varying levels: Chamber Orchestra, Concert Orchestra, String Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra I & II are all eligible for students to receive five units of UC-approved fine arts credit for each semester enrolled.
Westlake also offers an extensive range of jazz programs, including four levels of big band jazz ensembles, three jazz combos and a jazz combo workshop, all designed for students to flourish and enhance their musical skills as well as perform in scheduled concerts.