The Tri-M Benefit Concert: A Reflection

Ahoy everyone! It’s me, Manthan, and I’m back with another article! This time, it’s about the Tri-M benefit show that happened last Friday on February 7th. For those who don’t know, the club here is an extension of the Tri-M Music Honors Society, a club where musicians get together to play music for a philanthropic cause. I’ve been in the club for 3 years and I’ve played at places like retirement centers and nursing homes. This club has been a great place for me – I got to meet other like-minded musicians and perform with them for a just cause.

Last year, the club had a benefit concert where they raised money for environmental organizations like the Sierra Wildlife Club. I wasn’t there for that event because I was away for a robotics tournament. While last year’s show was small, this year, things were different.

This year’s theme was “For Our Planet”. Our planet has been going through a lot lately. The effects of climate change are getting more and more serious, especially in places like Australia. While the 2020 fires weren’t the worst fires in Australian history, they were still serious. Any tragedy, no matter how devastating, is still a tragedy, and must be treated as such. As a result, the theme was “For Our Planet”. Additionally, the club raised money for the Sierra Club to support local wildlife organizations.

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This is the poster for this year’s event, designed 60.2 KB View full-size Download

Preparing for this event took lots of time. We had to first choose days that didn’t coincide with other school events like prom. The event was set to be on February 7th even though there was the winter formal (which apparently got canceled)  the next day. Other events later popped up but that didn’t matter; the show would go on no matter what. The next part was deciding decorations; this part took several weeks. Food, which is always important at any event (because what’s an event without food?), took some time to plan out. Last year, the club tried catering from Burma Burma, but due to the hefty price tag, that plan wasn’t repeated again. This year, we had a DIY salad bar and catering from a Thai restaurant, which everyone LOVED.

Setting up for the event; food wasn’t there yet, but this is what it looked like a few hours before the show
Table decorations

There were about 30 or so people (mostly performers). Even though we all tried advertising the event through fliers, due to the still-unknown nature of our club, we didn’t get a large attendance. That didn’t stop the performances from happening.

The event showcased individual performances from Tri-M members as well as other groups including dance, an all-star jazz band, my band Skarizon, dances, Rock Band, and some special guests.

To kickoff the event, club founder Shreya introduced the event to everyone and explained the “For Our Planet” theme. Not too long afterwards, the first performer was Vivian Hir, who performed 2 pieces. The first was “Doctor Gradus a Pranassum”, and the second was “Arabesque No. 2”. (Note: Sorry for the bad pictures, but before dinner I mostly sat at a bad location).

Vivian’s performance – the shot’s pretty grainy

Vivian’s fingers dancing across the piano dazzled the crowd, and she won the applause of everyone present. Next to perform was Shreya, who sang “She Used to Be Mine” by Sara Bareilles. Shreya sang with a stunning voice that blew us all away. She sang with superhuman confidence and carried us to another dimension with her voice. Everyone madly applauded her performance.

Shreya killing it onstage!

Next up, Harshita performed a flawless piece, Bach’s “Italian Concerto”, on the piano, which everyone loved. Once again, we got to witness the musical talent of people at this school, especially live.

Harshita doing a great job as always on the piano!

Ananya’s performance was an acoustic show where she sang “Ivy” by Frank Ocean and delighted the audience with her vocal talent. She played a cute little arrangement and really lightened the mood. 

Ananya doing an awesome job live!

Her performance concluded the first bit of musical shows. We then had a presentation from the QLS Environmental Club. They talked about how tips on how to protect our environment by reducing energy usage and dispelled common myths about environmental conservation. This is the kind of advice that we truly need anywhere.

The Environmental Club – Perfect group for an event like this

After that brief interlude, the music was back! We now had the All-Star jazz band coming up to play 3 songs. This year, the school has 2 official jazz bands but there’s a third with the “best members from each group”. This band has only met twice during Thursday lunches, and they had a pretty stellar performance. Everyone loved it, and I definitely want to see more of their shows!

These guys are really good!

This was the last band performance before dinner. Now, it was dance’s turn to take the stage. The dance troupe, as always, did great and blew us all away with their coordinated, energetic moves that showed how graceless and unfit we were.

Seriously, these people are good!

Dinner was next, and we had delicious Chinese food from Shangri-la! Everyone loved it – we all went back for second helpings and ate to our hearts’ content! Shreya did an amazing job with the catering and it definitely showed that night!

After dinner, my band Skarizon and I took the stage for the first show after dinner. This was our first show of 2020, and when we returned to practice back in January, we were all pretty fired up and ready to go! We were progressing fine with our new songs (September and Bad Guy), but a week before the show, complications struck. 

On the Friday before the show, our alto saxophonist Ron Li decided to take a hiatus from the band. This threw us completely off; he played all the hard parts and added a higher sound to our horn section. To make matters worse, on Tuesday, everyone except for our guitarist, trombonist, and baritone saxophonist dropped out of the performance. This could’ve hurt us hard, but we were determined to keep going. Our ever-supportive mentor Dr. Liddell joined us on bass, and our close friend Jason joined us on piano despite learning his parts a few hours before the performance.

Because almost 2/3 of the band couldn’t make it, we had to resort to playing easier songs. The first song we played, “Eastern Standard Time”, was new to us but so easy that we learned it within a few practices. Our second and final song, “Latin Goes Ska”, was a familiar one since it was the first song everyone in the band played.

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We may have sounded empty during this show, but we all had fun playing! We showed everyone that we will keep performing, even if almost everyone isn’t there. 3.42 MB View full-size Download

After our show was completed, Rock Band took the stage. They only played two songs – the first was “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz (of course, this got a lot of love from the crowd), and the second was “Teeth” by Five Seconds of Summer (this was their second time playing it and I was headbanging all over the place to it). Rock Band, of course, rocked it (pun intended).

Rock Band killing it – I actually auditioned to be their drummer back in 10th grade, but I didn’t make it since my drumming wasn’t that good.

The show wasn’t over yet. There was a special surprise for us. This band has been pretty well known in the history of Quarry Lane bands; it was there for quite some time but, due to unknown reasons, had to disband 2 years ago. Luckily for us, the legends were back at it again! This, of course, is the Teachers’ Band!

The best band of the night featuring Dr. Liddell on bass/organ, Mr. Gary Smith on rhythm/lead guitar, Mr. McCullough on lead/rhythm guitar, and Mr. Squi on the drums!

It’s honestly pretty rare for a school to have so many people, regardless of age, with great musical talent. I’ve had the great opportunity to witness it in many forms. In the case of students, this musical talent came in the forms of everyone in the jazz bands, rock band, my band, and all sorts of other musical groups. 

However, seeing teachers with such musical talent is also impressive. We normally think of teachers as just educators to listen to and ask question. However, it’s important to know that, in the end, we’re all humans. We have all sorts of special talents and abilities that shape our identity. I first got to witness that when my 9th grade math teacher Mr. Bonfanti played bass with the jazz orchestra (he also played bass for the jazz band). While we were waiting for our show, I asked him math questions, which he gladly answered.

The Teachers’ Band played 3 songs. The first was an improvised jam session that the band made up on the spot. Mr. Smith played lead guitar for it, and did a pretty good job at playing and taking the solos! Mr. Squi added some really artful drum fills while Dr. Liddell and Mr. McCullough held everything really well.

The second song was a mesmerizing lullaby from the 60’s. This tune, “Sleepwalk”, featured Mr. McCullough on lead guitar. His fingers produced notes that set a dreamy background for us. The show was drawing to a close, and this music got all of us to reflect on the excitement of those few hours. Everyone’s favorite musical physics teacher really set the mood for the end of the show.

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Mr. McCullough nailing it on the lead guitar! 3.52 MB View full-size Download

The last song was a lively, funky ending to the night. Dr. Liddell took up organ duties while Mr. McCullough played bass. Despite a shaky intro, the Teachers’ Band still played strong (and of course, got me headbanging) and ended the event on a lively note (that was intended as well). Everyone in the band gave their all and brought lots of energy to the party!

This final performance concluded the events of the night. Shreya took the stage once again to announce the ending of the event and thanked everyone for being there and performing. 

Shreya concluding the event

Shreya and the others in Tri M really gave their all and worked extremely hard to make this event happen. They planned a lot and spent countless hours to work on this event when they could’ve been studying, doing homework, or being with their friends. Instead, they all worked together to make sure we all had a wonderful experience at the benefit show while performing charity. We are all extremely grateful to you, Shreya, for giving so much of your time and effort to make this event such a great success! It’s an honor to be part of Tri-M with you.

Written by your evil pirate drummer.

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