Band and Orchestra Get Schooled by UOP Music Professors

WRHS band and orchestra had a special visitor from the University of Pacific Conservatory of Music visit this week. On October 18th Dr. Vu Nguyen and Dr. Jonathan Latta visited our school’s band to conduct a band/percussion masterclass. Our school’s performing arts department has a lot of great qualities that could warrant a visit from these two highly skilled musicians and professors. Dr. Nguyen and Dr. Latta chose Weston Ranch for several reasons.

First, due to our performing arts department’s variety in musical ensembles such as orchestra, sax quartet, mariachi, symphony, and rock band, we produce a much higher amount of multi-instrumental musicians than other schools in the district, with many students playing two or even three instruments.

Second, not only do we have many talented musicians at our school two teachers in our performing arts department are also UOP alums. Robert Brown and Ethan Albala both got their degrees at UOPCOM, with Mr. Brown obtaining a bachelor’s and master’s in music education and Mr. Albala earning a bachelor’s in music performance in voice.

Finally, this visit also acted as recruitment for the UOPCOM, who’s looking for all sorts of musicians, not simply music majors. Lastly, they wanted to attempt to recruit at WRHS because our diverse student population is reflective of the community they have at UOP.

Dr. Nguyen is an Associate Professor of Music and band director at UOPCOM and has worked at a bundle of universities, including the University of Connecticut, the University of Indianapolis, the University of Washington, and the University of Indiana. An ensemble under the direction of Dr. Nguyen has been most recently invited and recognized at the 2020 College Band Directors National Association Easter Division Conference. During his academic career, Dr. Nguyen earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from UOP, a Master of Music in Conducting from the University of Oregon, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting from the University of Washington. Along with these solid academic achievements, Dr. Nguyen is a commander and conductor of the Air National Guard Band of the West Coast.

Dr. Latta is an Associate Professor of Practice and Percussion, Program Director of Ensembles, and First Year Advisor at UOP. Before he arrived in California and began working at UOP, Dr. Latta was the Director of Percussion Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. Before going back to school for his Doctorate, Dr. Latta joined the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West and served in over 300 performances as a percussionist. He would later teach percussion at UOP from 2016-2017 while working as Assistant Dean and, even then, became the chair of the University Pedagogy Committee for the Percussive Arts Society for six years. However, during his time at UOP, he still managed to have an active career as a percussionist performing with many groups such as the Stockton Symphony, Modesto Symphony, the Sacramento Philharmonic, Stockton Concert Band, the music in the Mountains Festival Orchestra in Durango, CO, etc. Throughout his career, he achieved a Bachelor of Music in Music Performance and Music Education from UOP, a Master of Music in Music Performance from East Carolina University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Performance from the University of Arizona.

Weston Ranch has a tremendous band and orchestra; receiving a visit from two accomplished professors was an honor. We hope this article grabbed the interest of any student musicians intrigued at the thought of potentially pursuing music after high school. Those looking for further information about WRHS small ensembles or UOP and the UOPCOM should check each school’s respective website and our excellent teachers in our performing arts department, Mr. Brown and Mr. Albala.