Local high school string quartet to join touring Beatles musical

PALM SPRINGS, CA. – When the touring show “In My Life – A Musical Theatre Tribute to the Beatles” comes to the Annenberg Theater on Friday, February 26, be on the lookout for two quartets — not just one.

The Palm Springs High School string quartet has the privilege of joining the professional actors on stage to add an element of orchestral texture to the evening.

Here’s the rundown:

The show: “In My Life” is the musical retelling of the Beatles story through the eyes of manager Brian Epstein and features the live music of renowned tribute band, Abbey Road. The band features Chris Paul Overall (“Paul”), Nathaniel Bott (“John”), Zak Schaffer (“George”) and Axel Clarke (“Ringo”). Brian Epstein is played by Murphy Martin. The production includes multimedia, period costumes and vintage instruments. It has toured for years, with a critic for the Orange County Register at one point declaring, “If you see one tribute show, see this one –smart and loads of fun.” The show is widely considered by industry insiders to be the most unique Beatles show in decades.

PSHS Beatles Quartet-1 (2)The string quartet: Palm Spring High students Branden Figueroa, Alex Salazar, Alex Moore and Camille Gaede will join the band for the songs “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yesterday,” “A Day in the Life,” “Hello Goodbye,” and “Hey Jude.” In a special touch, “Yesterday” is played as a scene in which the Paul McCartney character plays the song for the first time for Beatles producer George Martin, with the songwriter explaining that he envisioned a string-quartet accompaniment.

Palm Spring High’s other music achievements:  Palm Springs High School has several musical programs. The string programs consist of the Symphonic Orchestra, Stringed Orchestra, String Quartets, Classical Guitar Ensemble, Beginning Strings Ensemble, Beginning Guitar Ensemble, and the Valley Strings Community Orchestra.

Quartet for hire: The Palm Springs String Quartet performs at business grand openings, weddings and the like. They may be contacted through Orchestra Director Jason Powell at jpowell@psusd.us.

How the “Beatles” connection was started: The producers of “In My Life” approached Palm Springs High School’s Orchestra Director Jason Powell looking for a talented ensemble which could hold their own with a rock band in front of an audience. The show commonly uses a local quartet to augment the production while on tour.

The quartet’s Beatles fan: Gaede is the quartet’s Beatles fan. “I like the passion that the Beatles had for their music,” she said. “It’s upbeat and fun music.”

From left to right: Alex Alazar, Camille Gaede, Branden Figueroa and Alex Moore. Photo taken by Jason Powell. "Sgtpepper" shows Nate Bott ("John"), Axel Clarke ("Ringo"), Chris Paul Overall ("Paul") and Jesse Wilder ("George"). Photo taken by Michelle Fairless.

From left to right: Alex Alazar, Camille Gaede, Branden Figueroa and Alex Moore. Photo taken by Jason Powell. “Sgtpepper” shows Nate Bott (“John”), Axel Clarke (“Ringo”), Chris Paul Overall (“Paul”) and Jesse Wilder (“George”). Photo taken by Michelle Fairless.

The details: In My Life – A Musical Theatre Tribute to The Beatles is the award-winning musical biography of The Beatles through the eyes of manager Brian Epstein and features the live music of renowned tribute band Abbey Road.  The show is widely considered by industry insiders to be the most unique Beatles show in decades. The multi-media musical comes to the Annenberg Theater on Friday, February 26 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $35/$45/$55 and may be purchased online at http://www.annenbergtheater.org, by phoning 760.325.4490 or at the theatre box office located at 101 N Museum Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262. The box office is open Wed-Fri 10a-4p. The show is appropriate for all ages.

And here is some additional information about the members of the PSHS String Quartet:

Branden Figueroa has been playing the violin for four years and also plays percussion. In addition to being a member of the Palm Springs High School Orchestra, Figueroa plays with the Valley Strings Community Orchestra and the Palm Spring HS String Quartet. Figueroa performs as a soloist at community events as well.

“The orchestra experience has been so important to me,” said Figueroa. “It shaped who I am and made me realize the person I want to be.”

“I’m looking forward to performing with the Beatles show but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous,” said Figueroa.

The senior plans to attend the University of Redlands after graduation and pursue a career in music education.

Alex Salazar has playing the violin for three years. “I wanted to learn to play the violin because it was so different and it stood out,” said Salazar. He is a member of the Palm Springs High Orchestra, String Quartet and the Valley Strings Community Orchestra.

Salazar is a member of PSHS’s Varsity Wrestling Team and president of the Coding Club, an on-campus group dedicated to computer programming. The junior aspires to attend college after graduation and major in Bioengineering.

Alex Moore has been playing the violin for four years and also plays the bass clarinet. “I like the tone of the cello and the music parts written for the instrument,” said Moore. Moore is a member of the school marching band and performed with an all city honors band in middle school. He previously played with the Valley Strings Community Orchestra.

“I enjoy playing with an orchestra because we get to play classical music instead of contemporary music,” said Moore.

The senior, who has been a member of his school’s ROTC unit for three years, plans to enlist in the U.S. Air Force after graduation.

Camille Gaede has been playing the viola for two years. “The viola has such a rich sound,” said Gaede. “It’s a very different instrument.”

Gaede plays with her school’s orchestra, string quartet and the Valley Strings Community Orchestra. She was a member of the Buddy Rogers Youth Symphony.

She is a member of her school’s JV Tennis Team and played club soccer. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering with the National Charity League and other organizations.

The senior hopes to attend Augustana University in Sioux City, South Dakota after graduation.

Gaede is the quartet’s Beatles fan. “I like the passion that the Beatles had for their music,” she said. “It’s upbeat and fun music.”

And here is some additional information about Palm Springs High School Orchestra Director Jason Powell: As the Director of Strings at Palm Springs High School, Powell re-established the PSHS Symphonic Orchestra after a 25-year hiatus and has built the Classical Guitar Ensembles and Orchestral Strings Programs. Palm Springs High is the only high school in the Coachella Valley to have such programs. The various string ensembles perform at numerous private parties, conventions, and workshops including national and multinational events, and have strong ties to the surrounding colleges and universities

Powell earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education in Classical Guitar with a minor in Percussion from the University of Redlands in 2007. From there he moved onto his Master’s Degree remaining at Redlands in Guitar Performance before moving to Boston University where he graduated with a Master’s Degree in Music Education.  Dr. Powell has completed his Doctorate in Educational Justice and Leadership from his Alma matter, the University of Redlands.  In addition, Dr. Powell completed graduate course work at Florida State, Ohio State, and Chapman University, as well as, specialty studies in string pedagogy, Kodaly Methods, and the California credentialing to teach Music A.P. Theory.

Powell remains an active musician in the community, performing with the Joshua Tree Phil-Harmonic (violin II), the Desert Chamber Orchestra (violin II), and the Palm Desert Community Presbyterian Church (guitar & percussion). He also performs in the bi-yearly PSHS musicals (The Phantom of the Opera – cello, Beauty and the Beast – cello, and Hairspray – guitar).

He is a recipient of several awards including Outstanding Teacher at Palm Springs High School (2012), an induction in to the C.O.D. Hall of Fame as Alumni of the Year (College of the Desert 2012), and the Rotary-Alumni award for Excellence in Instrumental Performance (2004). Powell also served as the conductor of the Buddy Rogers Youth Symphony in 2012.

 

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