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A night of steel drum magic at Wasco High

The historic Wasco High School auditorium was filled with the rhythmic beats of steel drum music of the WHS Groove Steelers at their Pan Rocks concert last week. Known for the band's infectious and soulful melodies, the performance featured a special guest appearance by Tracy Thornton, whose presence added an extra layer of excitement to the evening's festivities.

In an interview after the show, Eduardo Jimenez Corona said performing in front of a live crowd is stressful, "But seeing everyone enjoying the music is special to me. The highlight is always when you're done, seeing how people praise you and how all the hard work and effort you put into it paid off."

Another band member shared her enthusiasm, "I loved it. A highlight was enjoying the music, dancing and playing the drums. We practiced every morning for tonight to put on a great show. I was very proud of our performance. I think we did a good job."

For almost the last decade, renowned steel pannist, Tracy Thornton, who has been playing for 30 years, has lent his talent to the music students of Wasco High and once again this year joined the band to prepare them for the concert. "The community always welcomes me with open arms."

He said of the students, "The kids are amazing, hardworking, passionate about their music and a blast to hang out with. I am very grateful that I get to come out to play music and that Mr. Sparks invites me to come every year to give me an opportunity to do what I love to do."

Many students said it was a privilege to play alongside Thornton. Sawyer Sparks said, "He is unique. His teaching skills make it easier for us to learn because he goes into depth with each note and makes sure we're playing the right ones."

Spectators said they were captivated by the music. Jennifer Mendoza was one of them. "It was so thrilling. I got goosebumps. It was so good. It was more than I expected. I never heard music like that before."

Steel drums are a collection of musical instruments that represent all the voices of a symphony orchestra. They are made and tuned by hand in 55-gallon oil barrels, and they originated from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. This tradition has been passed down from generation to generation and beyond.

Wasco High School's music department students have embraced the culture of the steel drums genre thanks to Music Director Greg Sparks. "I am very proud of the kids. There were some challenging pieces, but tonight was their best performance of those ever."

"I am lucky to work with such wonderful students and be in this incredible community."


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