Saturday, May 13, 2006

Porterville Panther Band Concert

(photo by Chieko Hara - The Porterville Recorder)

The Porterville Panther Band put on an amazing performance last night -- evident by several standing ovations throughout the program.

I was extremely touched with the solemness of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" -- performed not only by the band, but with the Porterville orchestra and Porterville High choirs.

It literally gave me goosebumps - it was the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. It sounded as if angels were all around. For the last stanza, band director Jim Kusserow turned to the audience and they had the opportunity to sing along.

Buck Shaffer's wife was sitting directly behind me.

"Absolutely amazing," she said. "I think he has outdone his master."

It was amazing. I wouldn't say he outdid the master (Buck Shaffer) but I would say that I think Buck must have been proud of his successor.

I only wish I could have stayed around to visit with people. But I had a deadline and only 20 minutes to finish the story and get it to the editor. I always feel I cheat the public out of a better story when I'm so rushed. Since I had a sealed envelope of all of the student award winners, I used that 15 minute window to set my laptop in the lobby of the auditorium and quickly finished most of the story, leaving the ending open so that I could watch the grand finale and then get back to it. But still, by the time it ended and I drove back to the newspaper, I only about three minutes to finish putting it together. I hate that.

I did stay for the finale - which is an amazing show in itself.

With the band playing the various United States armed forces songs : Caissons, Anchors Aweigh, Marine Hymn, etc., a representative of that branch would walk across stage with their flag and salute towards the audience for the remainder of the song, while veterans in the audience who served in that branch proudly stand during their song.

It is extremely touching. At the end of the final song, the band went directly into John Phillip Souza's Stars and Stripes Forever -- complete with a front line of picolo and flute players. The doors to the back of the auditorium open and down all the aisles, the letter girls, Orange Blossoms, twirlerettes and flag team, enter and stand all along the aisles as the song comes to a loud finish with a huge American Flag that drops down from the front and covers the entire stage - covering all but the front line of musicians who are standing and still playing.

It never fails - I remember that finish when I was in high school. It always gets the most amazing, almost never-ending standing ovation. I've timed the ovation past five minutes.

If a person sees a Panther Band Concert -- they are always in for a treat.

Today and Sunday only, you can see the story in the Porterville Recorder HERE (By Monday, you can still access it but you must click on archives and type in Panther Band)

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