Refreshed tunes hit national stage
Jan 19, 2013 (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Last month, Jon Magnussen went to three of his musical composition students with a challenge: Take Punahou School's most beloved marching-band songs and make them fresh.
The Punahou students went to work, producing new arrangements of "Men of Punahou" and "A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," Punahou's cheer song.
Those new takes on old favorites will be showcased in President Barack Obama's inaugural parade Monday, when the Punahou School marching band makes its way down Pennsylvania Avenue.
The three composition students -- Taddy Feng, Mitchell Pleus and Karuna Pyle -- won't be going to Washington, D.C., with Punahou's band.
But the teens aren't too broken up about that.
They're happy to have made their mark on what will be a historic day.
Pyle, 14, said when he watches the band playing on television, he'll be thinking, "They're playing my song."
Punahou School is one of just 58 groups selected to participate in the inaugural parade. The Kamehameha Schools will also represent the islands. Some 2,800 groups applied to participate in the parade.
Magnussen, a University of Hawaii-West Oahu music professor who also teaches at Punahou School, said arranging the songs for the band was a tall order.
The students had to figure out how each group of instruments would play their part, then determine whether the parts sounded good when played together.
Magnussen said the new arrangements are "faithful to the originals."
"Our main goal," he said, "was to create something that students and alumni could immediately recognize and sing along to."
Alumni like Obama, who graduated from Punahou in 1979.
Feng, 17, said it's an enormous honor to have created an arrangement that will be played for the president and thousands of parade-goers.
"It's very humbling," he said.
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