West Ranch hosts SCSBOA Festival 

Golden Valley students perform during the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association on Tuesday, March 26 at West Ranch High School. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

Musicians from nearly every junior high and high school in the Santa Clarita Valley gathered for the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association’s “Band and Orchestra Festival,” hosted by West Ranch High School.  

Elegantly dressed in black, students were grouped into various ensembles on Tuesday and Wednesday to perform for the judges in a theater, then test their sight reading knowledge at the library directly after.  

According to the SCSBOA Festival brochure, “each performing ensemble is classified using a formula that incorporates previous festival experience, student experience, instrumentation and the degree to which students receive private instruction.” 

In addition, while the ensembles are not ranked, each ensemble receives written feedback and recordings from the judges, as well as a final rubric that, although it does not include sight-reading, entails the following categories: superior, excellent, good, fair and poor.  

According to the festival manual, the purpose of the festival is to encourage aural awareness and musical responsiveness, develop skills for higher levels of performances, promote aesthetic experiences and express multicultural heritages, encourage students to support peers in a non-competitive environment and to foster a relationship as both a performer and audience member. 

Festival hosts Rod Schueller and Brian Leff from West Ranch, as well as Peggi Stoffel from Rancho Pico Junior High School, were at the forefront of ensuring the process went as smoothly as possible for the performing schools. 

“It’s my first year of running a festival where it was my campus hosting. The boosters are very organized with this and they have everything down,” Schueller said. “A lot of the scheduling has been done by Peggi Stoffel, who takes care of a lot of the front-end work and makes sure that participating schools have all the information they need to be successful here.” 

According to Schueller, who was appointed as director of instrumental music at West Ranch in July, Stoffel slots each group in a designated time, ensuring that each group has a half an hour of warm-up time before performing for the judges. 

Schueller is also pleased to see participation from a number of groups from various Southern California cities, including Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Newbury Park, as well as most of the local schools from the Hart district. 

“It’s great to see that they’re supporting a festival in their own district. There are also junior high school ensembles, band and orchestra, so it’s been really good,” Schueller said. “Three of my ensembles [from Tuesday], concert orchestra, chamber orchestra and wind ensemble, performed yesterday. The chamber orchestra had a fantastic performance and were told by adjudicators that they felt like they were at a concert.” 

Carrie Carleton, West Ranch Booster vice president of operations, helped set up the festival, taking a day and a half to make sure all was ready for the extensive two days.  

“We set up concessions [for students] that’s used as a fundraiser, we set up the sight reading area, we have hospitality for the judges, making sure that their meals and everything’s covered. It took a month to plan on trying to get donations, volunteers, ordering food, supplies,” Carleton said. “The judges are all a part of the SCSBOA organization — it’s their festival, we just host it.” 

Carleton, whose son is a sophomore in wind ensemble, marching band and jazz, has become more involved in the logistics of the festival after watching the process last year.  

“Last year, I was just an observer and watching how it was all happening, but being involved and putting it together this year, it’s a lot of work,” Carleton said. “Everybody is having a good time. It’s a successful day, even though it seems really hectic.” 

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