By Jillian Beck | Cal State LA News Service
Rich sounds of brass and percussion instruments cut through the crisp morning air at California State University, Los Angeles on Wednesday as members of the All City Honor Marching Band rehearsed for one of the biggest performances of their lives.
The 350 students comprising the Los Angeles Unified School District Beyond the Bell All City Honor Marching Band spent the morning preparing for their appearance in the 129th Tournament of Roses Parade. The band rehearses daily at Cal State LA through Dec. 28.
Cal State LA President William A. Covino welcomed the students as well as LAUSD and Tournament of Roses officials during a ceremony celebrating the band’s long history of performing in the iconic parade.
“All City is truly one of the cultural jewels of Los Angeles and a source of pride for all Angelenos,” Covino said to the gathering in the university’s Greenlee Plaza. “We are delighted to be your winter home.”
The students performed throughout the program, offering a preview of the songs, new and old, that millions of viewers will hear on New Year’s Day. The theme of this year’s parade is “Making a Difference.”
“To the students, we appreciate the hours, the practice, the sacrifice, the dedication that you put in to make this happen, to share your gifts with the rest of the world,” Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet said. “On Jan. 1, you are the soundtrack, you are the music behind the celebration.”
Tibbet presented a banner carrying the colors and emblem of the Rose Parade to the students and head band director Anthony White. The band is run by the LAUSD Beyond the Bell after-school program.
“Every band director’s dream might be to be a part of the Rose Parade, and we are so very thankful for the honor of being able to do that for 46 years,” White said. “We don’t take that for granted.”
In the front row sat Don Dustin, who co-founded the All City Honor Marching Band as a teacher in 1973. In honor of Dustin celebrating his 80th birthday this year, White led the band in a rousing rendition of “Nessun Dorma,” a piece by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini.
Beyond the Bell Senior Executive Director Alvaro Cortés thanked Cal State LA for providing the band with practice space and praised the students for their hard work.
“These kids are the best of the best and they represent Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school district in the country,” Cortés said.
Among those at the ceremony were acting LAUSD Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo and LAUSD board member Scott M. Schmerelson. Julio Torres, a representative of Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, and Ray López Chang, a representative of LAUSD board member Ref Rodriguez, also attended.
“[These students] really show us how critical arts are in education and how critical they are in terms of engaging students and making sure they are doing well in school,” Duardo said.
Schmerelson, who represents LAUSD Board of Education District 3, applauded the students, who come from more than 54 high schools across the district.
“Students, your passion for arts and music is just marvelous, I want you to thank your teachers and instructors for your patience and guidance in showing you the way,” said Schmerelson, who is a Cal State LA alumnus.
White and other All City Honor Marching Band staff members, including Cal State LA alumnus Art Duardo, will guide the student musicians, dance and flag teams during their rehearsals through Dec. 28.
The All City Honor Marching Band will perform at Disneyland on Dec. 29, Pasadena City College on Dec. 30 and during the Los Angeles Rams halftime show on Dec. 31 before they make the 5 1/2-mile trek down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena during the Rose Parade.
After the band performed a final stellar performance for the crowd gathered at Cal State LA, White’s voice boomed a motivational question to the students: “Who’s going to have the best band in the parade?”
“All City, sir!” they yelled back.
“And don’t you forget it,” White said.
Photos: Above, Students in the LAUSD All City Honor Marching Band rehearse at Cal State LA. Bottom, from left to right, LAUSD board member Scott M. Schmerelson, Beyond the Bell Senior Executive Director Alvaro Cortés, head band director Anthony White, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo, Cal State LA President William A. Covino, Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet and acting LAUSD Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. (Credit: Ty Washington/Cal State LA)
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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 28,000 students and has more than 245,000 distinguished alumni.
Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit www.CalStateLA.edu.