Around Bosco: Welcome New Band Director, Mr. Ramon Villanueva!
by Travien Sears, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor
The school year has begun and many students have noticed a new face around campus, our newly hired instrumental Music Director Mr. Ramon Villanueva. Coming to Bosco from our brother Salesian school, Don Bosco Technical Institute, he has big goals in mind for our music program as a whole.
Mr. Villanueva, a French Horn player, has had some amazing experiences in his over 20-year musical career, from traveling to China, South Korea (twice), performing in Carnegie Hall, recording music for movies, and performing with pop artists in concerts. He is excited to share, encourage and inspire the next generation of musicians and students to work hard and to aim high.
Not only is he working with our students as an educator, but he’s also currently growing upon his own previous collegiate degrees by pursuing another Masters Degree, this time however, instead of being in Music Performance, this degree is one called Musicology. Musicology, literally meaning, the study of music is a somewhat broad subject, however Mr. Villanueva has a focus and passion in Latin American art music. This is a very different emphasis and study than the Western Art Music that is studied by musicians here in America as well as in Northern Europe. He also found a passion for ethnomusicology, which isn’t a focus of study in Western or Latin American art but pretty much encompasses all music as well as the researching of music so that the musicians are able to break down the music of which they are playing.
“[I want] to allow students to feel that they have a place where they can have another creative outlet aside from everything else offered at the school,” Mr. Villanueva said.
One of Mr. Villanueva’s main goals is to give a way for his students to shine creatively. He wants to add more groups to help with that goal. Currently we have the SJB Braves Marching Band & Color Guard, the Wind Ensemble, Liturgical Band & Choir, Jazz Band, Indoor Winter Drumline, Indoor Winter Guard , Percussion Ensemble as well as the beginning and intermediate band classes.
A new group that Mr. Villanueva is excited to add in the near future is a Pure Digital Music Class. This class would entail producing beats and understanding the concept of the music in what we hear in a lot of the songs on the radio in rap, hip-hop and pop(ular) music. Another very important part of Program Growth is “injecting some new blood [and] getting students excited for what we are going to be adding,” Mr. Villanueva said.
Another way that Mr. Villanueva plans on growing the interest and the numbers of the program is by introducing new music to the Marching Band, as well as maintaining and improving upon the traditional charts and standards that have been kept and played in the past. By changing this aspect, he can improve the program so that students don’t get discouraged from doing another group just because they aren’t interested in doing the marching band.
“[I also] want there to be a greater diversity so that people see that we do more than just one thing here,” Mr. Villanueva said.
So far, the Marching Band has put out a few new tunes at the football games and is currently focusing on the ideals of quality over quantity. They’ve put out some new chart-toppers like: “Turn Me On” by David Guetta and “California Love” by Tupac featuring Dr. Dre.
The future goals and possibilities for the Marching Band and Color Guard, according to Mr. Villanueva, include but are not limited to exploring the competitive aspect in greater depth than the program has in the past few years, including competitive parades and traveling to all the football games. This includes trips like Mililani, Hawaii, which the band will unfortunately not be able to attend due to some major logistical details that were way too tricky to work out at the last minute. This can set up the culture where they are on the forefront and have this presence around campus, and part of that will be supporting the athletic teams in various ways.
Mr. Villanueva also talked about his plans to sustain and build upon the legacy of Mr. Eugene Fabiero, Bosco’s prior full-time band director who passed away in February of this last school year. Someone who had an enormous impact on the music program here as well as on the school community at large.
“Honoring the music that he incorporated in the Marching Band [because] what ends up happening with a departure, there’s always a shift, and for me, we have to honor what he did, but implement what I do and I have to somehow adopt what he did and make it my own. It’s impossible to step and fill someone’s shoes because every person’s mind is unique. I also plan on working with local middle schools to see how they feed into the school and also helping grow the program that way,” Mr. Villanueva said.
The Assistant Music Director, Mr. Christian Fuentes, someone who works the closest to Mr. Villanueva, has a great impression about our new band director,
“I really appreciate his vision for the music program as an alumnus of the program, as well as someone who has been on staff as Assistant Band Director and Front Ensemble Caption Head for the Indoor Drumline Program going on 8 years now, and him and I work very well together in my opinion,” Mr. Fuentes said. “I believe that he’s a great addition to our music program.”
Around campus, everyone is excited and ready to see what is to come with this new look band, and Mr. Villanueva is excited to deliver.
“This is definitely one of the high points of my musical career getting to direct the program, getting to bring my perspective and my background in music to the school and helping students thrive, not just as musicians, [which is important, but] that’s just one of the bonuses, but ultimately creating great people, kind people, people who care. For me, that’s a number one,” Mr. Villanueva said.