Sounds of the season at Mission Bay High
by Bart Mendoza
Dec 20, 2013 | 1278 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mission Bay High School’s top-notch jazz band The Preservationists will perform at the school’s “Snow and Tell” winter concert on Dec. 19. Courtesy photo
Mission Bay High School’s top-notch jazz band The Preservationists will perform at the school’s “Snow and Tell” winter concert on Dec. 19. Courtesy photo
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San Diego has many great holiday traditions, but when it comes to music, few can touch the heart like the annual Winter Concert at Mission Bay High School.

This year dubbed “Snow and Tell,” the concert takes place on Dec. 19, 7 p.m., bringing together all of the school’s music programs for a special performance of seasonal favorites, swing standards and jazz. More than 100 students across all grade levels will participate.

“We have a very strong jazz program, so everything has that jazzy flavor,” said Mission Bay music director Jean-Paul “JP” Balmat. “We will be playing everything from Duke Ellington (‘It Don’t Mean a Thing’) to Vince Gauraldi (‘Charlie Brown Christmas’).”

In addition to the school’s groups — New Orleans-style jazz band The Preservationists, Jazz Ensemble, Music Theory/Compos-ition and Beginning Band — he notes a pair of additions to this year’s concert.

“This is the first concert we will be showcasing our brand-new choir- and concert-band program,” he said. “We might sneak some New Orleans-inspired tunes in there too.”

Balmat said Mission Bay’s music program has significantly expanded this past year, including the addition of assistant band director and MBHS alum Mike Hom.

“We have doubled our course offerings this year and our program has grown dramatically,” Balmat said. “We are now offering six different music classes, so students have more opportunities and we are able to place them by skill level and interest. This has made students more successful and the evidence in clear when listening.”

As much fun as the concerts are for both musicians and audience, Balmat considers them a vital component of the school year.

“They are a way to bring the community together and showcase our wonderful student talent at the school,” he said. “Ticket sales also help us raise money for purchasing new instruments, supplies and technology. Our program has doubled this year, so we are busy making sure students have what they need to succeed.”

Now in his seventh year directing the school’s winter concert, Balmat said his favorite thing about the event is getting to be on stage directing his students.

“There is an energy in performance that is hard to replicate in the classroom,” he said. “The students all come together and their parents and the community are there to witness it.”

The school’s musical legacy helps tie things together.

“A lot of the students see that they are part of something special,” he said. “They understand the work (others) have put in before them and they want to leave the program stronger when they graduate.”

 Balmat considers music to be an essential part of life.

“Music simply makes your quality of life better,” he said. “I can’t imagine going a day without playing or doing something musical. I see my students find themselves through music. It brings them to school every day and gives them an outlet. We also focus on building a community inside the school so the students always feel a sense of safety and family here.”

Coordinating this many students for a single program can be challenging, but even with the addition of two new groups, Balmat is confident anyone looking for holiday-themed family entertainment this season will enjoy the performance.

“I have some great support from parents, so I’m sure everything will go smoothly,” he said. “The most time-consuming thing is working on all the music for the different groups. We have been practicing for this show for the past three months. We just hope it shows when it’s show time.”

Snow and Tell Winter Concert: Thursday, Dec. 19 at Mission Bay High School, 2475 Grand Ave. 7 p.m. All ages. $5. www.missionbaymusic.com
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