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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State Wind Ensemble gives cinematic performance

There wasn’t a moment where the instruments sounded anything but confident and impactful
Student Isaac Potkin introducing his arrangement of Indiana Jones during the wind ensemble concert. Taken by Jessica Miller on April 27.

Sounds of violins, oboes, clarinets, flutes, trumpets, tubas and other Chico State Wind Ensemble instruments reverberated throughout the Harlen Adams Theatre as they paid homage to the contemporary classical composer John Williams and other media-based composers.

The theatre quickly filled up with those eager to listen to pieces from a variety of video games and films, some of which were arranged by the students themselves.

As the lights went down and the conductor’s baton went up, bright music and swells of brass instruments filled the theatre. An arrangement of “The Cowboys” score was the first in the program and spectacularly introduced the ensemble with a melodic bang.

The percussionists moved around the stage throughout the performance as they switched instruments. During one piece, band staff president Daisy Ferris played two instruments at one time. The light shining over the stage reflected off the percussion instruments and onto the white back walls, creating an almost underwater feel. 

As this arrangement came to an end, wind ensemble director and conductor Christopher Navarrete took the mic. Navarrete also explained why there was a dramatic pause during the arrangement … because he lost his grip on the baton.

From there — with interludes from Navarrete and student musicians such as saxophonist Sophia Simmons and percussionist Ferris — the show went on.

It included arrangements from video games “Elden Ring,” “The Legend of Zelda,” “Metroid” and “The Last of Us” and films “Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

There wasn’t a moment where the instruments sounded anything but confident and impactful. 

Before the last piece, Navarrete made sure to pause and acknowledge the student arrangers, student Chris Navarrete, Spencer Akey, Samantha Alverez and Issac Potkin. Each was given a framed edition of their arrangement’s front page. 

Shortly after, the 11 graduating seniors in the ensemble were thanked by the audience and the director. Navarrete gave each senior a personalized card as one of the students hummed the Jeopardy theme. Ferris also honored Navarrete with a bouquet of yellow roses and a card.

With a flourish of the piano, the ensemble sang a quick rendition of “Happy Birthday” to their stage manager before moving on to student arranger Potkin’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” 

Potkin came out in full Indiana Jones attire, sans the whip, and thanked those close to him before describing what the film means to him and why he chose to arrange that particular Williams composition.

A standing ovation ensued for quite some time as the ensemble stood.

Highlights from the Editors’ 

Ariana Powell: editor-in-chief

As a person who has done some arranging and composing in my life, I bow down to the student arrangers who succeeded in portraying the emotions and pieces key to the chosen video games and films.

However, it was disappointing to only hear two of Williams’ compositions, especially considering the boundless options such as “Jurassic Park,” “Jaws,” “Hook,” “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars” — the latter especially considering the proximity to May 4.

The only taste of the “Harry Potter” scores was the music they played through the speakers before the performance began. As a Potter-head, that was very disappointing. I was hoping “The Quidditch World Cup” from “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” would be in the program.

Alas, it is a long journey from sight-reading to practice to rehearsal to the stage and only certain songs can be chosen to be performed.

As a violinist I found myself transfixed by the small strings section, and disappointed by the first violins’ occasional lack of synchronization. You can always tell things are off if the bows are going in different directions.

Even though I haven’t seen “Princess Mononoke,” I found that arrangement particularly interesting as it showcased the more classical Japanese style of composing.

Jessica Miller: food editor

My favorite piece of the night was “Gerudo Valley,” a student arrangement by Chris Navarrete from “The Legend of Zelda.” 

As an avid “Legend of Zelda” player, this piece stood out to me on the program for the night and I was not disappointed. 

The arrangement allowed for beautiful overlapping melodies and swells of brass and percussion that brought the audience straight to the scorching desert of Hyrule. It truly brought me back to boss fights in the game as the trumpets played a resounding bright chorus of summer heat. 

While all of the arrangements were wonderful, I felt completely engrossed in the “Gerudo Valley.” 

I loved seeing the passion everyone had as they played. Though the selection of music was not just John Williams’ pieces, it was obvious how much pride the students had in their work. 

The community among the ensemble was radiant and the audience had no choice but to get swept up in the teary senior goodbyes and thrilled introductions to each arrangement. 

The concert was well worth the $6 student admission fee and I will certainly be attending more concerts in the future.

Jessica Miller and Ariana Powell can be reached at [email protected].

Ariana Powell can also be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Jessica Miller
Jessica Miller, News Editor
Jessica Miller is a fourth-year English literature studies major at Chico State with a minor in linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This will be her first semester with The Orion. After graduation, she plans to pursue a single-subject teaching credential in English and begin teaching at the high school level in California. She loves to write, read and work at the Student Learning Center on campus as a Writing Center tutor as well as her ESL Support Services tutoring position.
Ariana Powell
Ariana Powell, Editor-in-Chief
Ariana Powell is in her fourth year at Chico State as a media arts (criticism) and journalism (news) double-major. Now in her fourth semester on The Orion and having assumed the editor-in-chief position, she is prepared to continue helping upcoming journalists and endeavors to continue building her repertoire of multimedia and writing skills. In her free time, she enjoys writing, watching and analyzing films, reading and spending time with her loved ones.

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