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September 28, 2009
Local high school musicians receive prestigious scholarships

Two local high school students are humming the sweet melody of success thanks to their hard work, prodigious talent and an unshakable love of music.

Yes, for Rio Americano High School students Victor San Pedro and Zach Giberson, music isn't just a "phase." In May, we reported on the musical talents of Victor and Zach, who spent the past summer participating in a residency program at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. They were joined by fellow Rio band mate Graham Smith, and the students not only learned volumes about the craft and industry of their passion--they served as exemplars of young musical talent.

After studying and performing with world-renowned faculty and more than 900 of the world's best and brightest high school and college musicians, two of the men were invited back to further their promising music careers. Alto saxophonist and jazz guitarist Zach Giberson was recognized as one of the program's finest musicians, and the Rio Americano senior will finish out his final year knowing he is on board for a full, four-year scholarship to study at Berklee.

Rio Americano junior Victor San Pedro was selected as one of four guitarists from a pool of more than 250 to be showcased at the program's final performance, and will return to Berklee on a scholarship for next year's summer program.

"I remember one specific time when I was playing with musicians from different parts of the world in a Tower of Power [tribute] ensemble," recalls San Pedro of his experience. "The percussionist was from Japan, the drummer was from Italy and the pianist was from California. We could barely even talk to each other, but when we all played together it worked, and that was really cool."

San Pedro anxiously awaits his return to the program, where he'll once again be able to experiment with new instruments, explore alternative music genres and hang out with more than a few renowned musicians. This time around, he'll be entering the program with the invaluable knowledge he picked up in his first year:

"The most important thing I learned was that there are a lot of good players out there. So you gotta work hard."

The Rio Americano band program provides quality music education to 200 of the school's students, who comprise four levels of concert band and four jazz ensembles. On Friday, November 6, the school will host its 29th annual Rio Americano Playathon, a musical marathon featuring 17 hours of nonstop music.

Orchestrated by students, the event includes performances by all of Rio's award-winning jazz and concert bands, plus combos and soloists from the Small Ensemble program. Both Giberson and San Pedro will appear in multiple performances throughout the event.

From 3:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., band students from local middle and elementary schools can play their instruments alongside the Rio Band, and the community is invited to attend the evening concerts, which are scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. .

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