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More than 300 regional students gathered at the annual La Costa Canyon High School Band-O-Rama concert on March 23. Courtesy photo.

Band-O-Rama brings more than 300 students to La Costa Canyon

CARLSBAD — School bands from the San Dieguito Union High School District came together at La Costa Canyon High School on March 23 to celebrate the district’s annual Band-O-Rama concert.

More than 300 district students across bands from La Costa Canyon High School, San Dieguito Academy, Oak Crest Middle School and Diegueño Middle School – plus students from Cardiff’s Ada Harris Elementary School and the Encinitas Union School District’s after-school music programs – converged in the school gymnasium to perform both separately and together.

The event was organized by LCC’s band director Charles Mekealian, who is in his third year at the school.

“The point of Band-O-Rama is to bring all these groups together to just celebrate music and put on a fun performance,” Mekealian said. “We have kids ranging from fourth grade right up to 12th graders.”

Incredibly, all the school bands rehearsed separately leading up to the event and only rehearsed together about an hour before showtime.

The concert commenced with string performances by the youngest bands followed by middle schoolers playing at more advanced levels. The high schools then performed two songs, after which the middle and high schools played together. The concert then culminated in all the bands performing together.

La Costa Canyon High School Band Director Charles Mekealian and San Dieguito Academy Music Director Jeremy Wuertz at the San Dieguito Union High School District’s annual Band-O-Rama event on March 23. Courtesy photo.

“Band-O-Rama is the biggest thing we do with all the other schools and a lot goes into this event,” Mekealian explained. “I bring all the parts together with the help of my music booster program and the LCC administration, and we also receive help from our athletics department to find a date that the gym is available.”

The LCC band students also play a big part in the event.

“The kids get here at 7 a.m. on the day of the event to help unload and set up tarps and chairs on the court,” Mekealian said. “We have great student leadership at LCC.”

When asked what Band-O-Rama means to him personally, Mekealian pointed to the collaboration between the ages.

“I love getting the high school groups together and the middle school groups to play with them, but my favorite part is at the end when all the groups play the same song together,” he said. “The great thing is that it is written at various levels, so we have the more advanced version for high and middle schoolers and an easier version for the elementary students, many of whom have only been playing for 10-12 weeks at this point.”

Jeremy Wuertz, who has been the music director at San Dieguito Academy since 2005, joined Mekealian for the annual event.

“Band-O-Rama is a celebration of the articulation of the levels,” Wuertz said. “What’s most exciting is how the elementary school kids can envision themselves moving into the future and see what’s possible if they continue.”

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