The Smooth Sounds of the Academy’s Music Program
December 15, 2020
Take a walk down to the Shaheen Music Wing before homeroom, during the day, or after school and you’ll most likely stumble upon some of the smoothest sounds at the Academy.
With seven different disciplines and three unique academic classes, CBA students have plenty opportunities to express themselves through music.
“Most of our music students are involved in more than one group and perform in a variety of settings with CBA ensembles,” said Mr. Christian Lopez, CBA’s music director. “We encourage students to join multiple groups in the performing arts department and allow them the opportunity to play different instruments in a secondary ensemble.”
Throughout the school year, students are involved in Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo, Men’s Choir, Pep Band for sporting events, Rock Band, Pipes & Drums, and Music Ministry for liturgical settings. During the spring semester, the Pit Orchestra provides the live music for Pegasus Production Company’s annual musical.
Academic classes include Music Appreciation, Concepts in Music Theory & History, and AP Music Theory. The Shaheen Wing features a practice room equipped with pianos, amplifiers and drums, as well as several larger rooms for ensemble rehearsals and classes.
A typical year features 10 to 15 performances from CBA musicians, including the winter and spring concerts. They perform in a variety of local and regional competitions and have even traveled out-of-state to premier locations such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“We try to provide these opportunities because we feel as though the students deserve to be able to show how hard they work during the year,” Lopez said. “The memories made and the bonds that form on these trips are ones that last a lifetime. Creating amazing experiences, forming friendships, and sharing the gift of music to the community are all things we find to be most impactful for our students.”
For Academy men, their involvement in the music program has helped them grow as both students and musicians.
“I have played trumpet since the fourth grade and had every intention of coming to CBA to continue that,” Ryan O’Connor ’21 said. “There’s a bond that we all have [in the program], which is very similar to a sports team. The one thing that unites us is that we all want to play good music, so because of that, we have the same drive to come every morning to practice.”
O’Connor is an example of how musicians can be an integral part of several music disciplines at the Academy. He is a standout trumpet player in the Jazz Ensemble, while also contributing to the Jazz Combo as the horn leader, the Men’s Choir, and the Pit Orchestra for the spring musicals.
The multi-discipline approach to music is why CBA students enjoy their craft and succeed in their efforts.
“Together, we practice, perform, compete, travel, and take the time to create memories and shared experiences as a department,” Lopez said. “Ultimately, they know that performing is a group effort and that it requires complete involvement of all musicians in the group.”
Each school year, the performing arts department adds new opportunities for students, both on the stage as performers or behind the scenes.
Students have even joined the music or theater groups having little to no prior experience. Four years later, they have plenty of memories in tow.
“CBA is the perfect place for students to explore their passions and creativity in music because we offer a wide variety of ways to get involved,” Lopez said. “There is always a place for students wanting to get involved in the department and we try to foster students’ creativity so they can express themselves how they want. It’s a department in which you can challenge yourself in the comfort of people who genuinely care.”