North Bergen High School senior Sergio Gomez was accepted into the North Jersey Regional Band and Brass Ensemble on Jan. 5 after auditioning at Paramus High School. He vindicated himself by finally making the Regional Band during his last year of school after having auditioned freshman year. His victorious musical achievement made him the only one out of five students who auditioned from the school to make the prestigious group.
“It felt like a great accomplishment,” said Gomez. “I’ve come a long way.”
Gomez stumbled onto the trumpet after having tried the piano but couldn’t commit himself to it. He remembers looking at a list of instruments and thought he would try the trumpet.
“It ended up being a really random choice,” said Gomez. “I stumbled on it and fell in love with it.”
He has been with NBHS’s marching band, concert band, and wind ensemble for four years, honing his musical craft.
“This is just a wonderful youthful testament of how [acoustic music] still lives.” – District Supervisor of Music George Haviland
Since NBHS’s District Supervisor of Music George Haviland is part of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC), Gomez was given the opportunity to audition for the North Jersey Regional Band. His audition consisted of running through scales on the trumpet for 30 points, a solo assigned piece of music (Andante et Scherzo by Barat) for 50 points, and sight reading for 20 points. (Sight reading is reading and performing music that a performer has not seen before.) With three judges, Gomez received a score of 203 out of 300 points.
“I’m glad we have a student this year; that is really prestigious,” said Haviland.
Band Director Michael Connor, who helped prepare Gomez for his audition, boasted about his strengths as a musician.
“He’s extremely talented,” said Connor.
Connor and Gomez practiced for an hour daily for a year but mainly focused on sight reading, which is normally tougher than the other requirements.
Gomez kept his composure even when he realized that he was the first to audition, followed by accomplished trumpet musicians throughout northern Jersey.
“I told myself that I either get in or I don’t,” said Gomez. “I went first so I set the bar for everyone else. [Nerves] got to me, but after I [auditioned].”
After being accepted into the North Jersey Regional Band, he was placed in the Symphonic Band and the Brass Ensemble. Gomez admitted that of the two ensembles, Symphonic Band was the most strenuous, with six hour rehearsals leading up to the concert on Jan. 27 at Randolph High School. The Brass Ensemble, on the other hand, had four-hour rehearsals that ended with a concert on Feb. 27 in Wayne Hills High School. Both ensembles had two weeks of rehearsals. Between them, Gomez preferred The Brass Ensemble.
“[It] was just pure fun,” said Gomez.
He attributes his success to George Haviland, and Band Directors Brian Bonacci and Michael Connor, crediting them with instilling different types of music in him.
According to Haviland, every year there are one to five students in the high school that make the regional band.
“It’s refreshing to see in this electronic age where we still have good old fashioned acoustic music, no amps, no mics, just the player, the music, purity and natural effect,” said Haviland. “It goes to show that live music will never, ever die. This is just a wonderful youthful testament of how [acoustic music] still lives.”
What the future holds for Gomez as a musician is undetermined. His other passion is engineering. Haviland wants him to “follow his heart” although he has given Gomez advice to pursue a double major degree at the University of Delaware. Gomez said that his future school has a good music program which will continue his musical legacy.
“I can’t let [music] go, it’s just a part of me,” said Gomez. “They’re two things that I love, so why not.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org