TPHS Music Department Falcon Finale Spring Concert


The Torrey Pines High School Music Department held its Falcon Finale Spring Concert on June 3 and June 6 at Torrey Pines High School’s new Performance Arts Center (PAC), directed by Amy Gelb. The June 3 concert featured performances by Wind Ensemble, Advanced Orchestra, and Jazz Band. The packed auditorium got a good feel for the incredible acoustics this pristine new venue offers. Gelb started the concert by thanking the TPHS families, Prop AA voters and Planning Committee, TPHS Foundation and “88 Key” donors, builders, and TPHS and SDUHSD administrations for making the PAC construction possible.

Music kicked off with Wind Ensemble’s soaring Solas Ane by Samuel Hazo. L’Italiana In Algeri Overture by Gioacchino Rossini was performed beautifully, and Who’s That Masked Man, arranged by Jay Bocook, was very fun. The brass and wind instruments sounded more vivid than ever in the PAC.

Advanced Orchestra performed Of Glorious Plumage by Richard Meyer. The brand new grand piano was wheeled out for Concerto in D minor for piano and orchestra No. 20 by Mozart, featuring Laura Yu (12). Her superb piano solo was understated, disciplined, and moving.

The grand rolled back, and the orchestra performed Elegie in G Major by Tchaikovsky. “They don’t like this one, but they will play it like they do,” Gelb announced as they concluded with Fiddle Faddle by Leroy Anderson, and she was right.

Jazz Band’s program included So Danco Samba, Here’s To Life, and Feeling Good with Isabella Russo providing heartfelt vocals demonstrating her blossoming range as a singer.

Birk’s Works (Dizzy Gillespie) provided a vehicle for a sizzling violin solo by Nicole Pustilnik, despite her recent fencing injury, and trumpet solo by James Friedman. Another Look at the Diminished Chord (Liston) featured solos by Andrew Dai on piano and Daniel Ju (12) on tenor sax. What You Dealin’ With (Wycliffe Gordon) was a fan favorite with solos coming in hot from Lucas Polidori on trombone, Trent Fallon on tenor sax, Matthew Jiang (12) on alto sax, and Joshua Kim (12) on trumpet.

On June 6, guitar, choir, and select chamber groups performed. Guitar Ensemble, directed by Gelb and Robert Wetzel, performed eight songs, concluding with Hey Jude. The program and performance were quite impressive, considering this year was most students’ introduction to playing an instrument and reading music.

Choir sang a pitch-perfect Amazing Grace, When I Fall in Love featuring a solo by Morgan Thompson, Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper), and Let The Music Fill Your Soul. Nina Mao (soprano) and Willie Zhang (tenor) performed a gorgeous and memorable duet of Beneath a Moonless Night, with Dan Yu on piano.

The event concluded with chamber groups and combos showcasing exceptional musical talent at TPHS. Jacey Yang (violin, 12), Elliot Kim (cello, 12), and Laura Yu (piano, 12) performed Dvorak’s Dumky Trio Op. 90, then Jacey and Elliot went into Handel/Halvorsen’s Passacaglia, a fascinating and challenging piece that they conquered. The first jazz band combo was Matthew Jiang (12) on alto sax, James Freedman on trumpet, Andrew Dai on piano, Steven Chang (12) on guitar, Samuel Sheffield on bass, and Caleb Sheffield on drums performing Take The “A” Train by Duke Ellington, with exceptional solos. Strasbourg St. Denis featured the same combo, subbing in Noah Garcia (12) on drums. The final song was written by freshman Sam Sheffield, called Running in Circles, a very solid pop rock tune, with Sam on guitar and vocals, Caleb on drums, Steven on guitar, and Brandon Raimo on bass. The crowd went wild.

See for more information about the TPHS music program. —TPHS Music Department news release