CARLSBAD — The eyes of the entertainment industry were on San Diego this past weekend with Comic-Con taking over downtown.
Nine drummers from the Carlsbad High School drumline and drummers from Vista High School not only attended the convention, they provided musical accompaniment to one of the biggest events of the weekend.
The drummers helped introduce “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” panel, which drew superstars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, and Josh Hutcherson.
Late night talk show host Conan O’Brien moderated the panel.
The students dressed as members of the District 13 army and surprised the audience of 6,500 with a reverberating, thunderous drum session.
The lights were dim and the drummers, along with 25 other area high school drummers, blasted into the session with “A Special Announcement from District 13.”
It began with four drummers in the front of the packed auditorium. As the drum beat slowly built, excited fans hooted in anticipation.
Other drummers throughout the hall chimed in leading to a crescendo reminiscent of battle.
They ushered in a preview of a movie trailer for the highly anticipated final installment of the Hunger Games.
“The students had a blast performing at the event and were treated like Hollywood stars during their day at Comic-Con,” said Carlsbad High School Band Director Peter Manzi. “I am always looking for opportunities to showcase our students and give them real life experiences in the field of music. This allowed students to experience first hand what it is like working as a professional musician, meeting a time line, and being prepared for every rehearsal and call time.”
The music was written by Vista High Band Leader Greg Anderson, according to Route 66 Productions Co-Owner Jane Shore, who was hired by Lionsgate to put on the event.
According to Bev de Nicola, communications consultant for the Carlsbad Unified School District, the drummers received kudos from an executive at Lionsgate Studio. After the event, the event organizer received a text from a studio executive stating, “That was amazing, I’m shaking! Great job!”
The students said it was an eye-opening experience they’ll not soon forget.
“The experience as a whole was one I’ll always remember. It was such a privilege, and we all appreciate this wonderful opportunity,” said CHS senior Ryan Ortiz.
Junior Azael Gonzalez agreed.
“(It was) a great opportunity to experience the real life of a professional musician,” said Gonzalez.
The drummers received recognition from the New York Times for being part of an exhibition that eschewed Comic-Con norms.
The four-day convention drew 130,000 ticketholders, along with thousands of attendees to the free surrounding events.
Over Comic-Con’s 45 years, the event has morphed from a niche celebration of comics to a film and television marketing platform drawing thousands of visitors and international attention.
This story has been updated.