The BYU-Hawaii Salsa Orchestra brought the audience to their feet during their end of the semester performance on Thursday, Feb. 9. Only three of the current members of the group are staying until the band returns in Fall; all of the other members have either already graduated or are graduating and moving on.
Gillian Jackson, a freshman from Nevada studying anthropology, has been to several performances and concerts put on by the BYUH Music Department this semester. She said this one was her favorite one yet and said, “There was such an enthusiastic atmosphere from the very beginning that never died out. The bands were so impressive and made me want to get up and dance. My favorite part was during the finale when the entire audience actually did get up and dance. It was a great performance!”
The ensemble, directed by Music Professor Dr. Darren Duerden, performed a total of nine pieces from a variety of Latin American styles, including bossa nova, salsa, and mariachi. The band also performed a salsa rendition of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” as a grand finale. Kris Ksnlome, a freshman from Thailand studying music who plays bongos in the band, said this number was his favorite to perform. “’I Want You Back’ was such an exciting piece to perform, and having an audience get so excited about it made it more exciting for us as a band.”
Elder Jim Hale, a senior missionary from Colorado, said he has never played with a group quite like the BYUH Salsa Orchestra. He first was introduced to the group during the Fall 2016 Semester by former student Koko Ohira. “Ohira was in my ward last semester,” Hale said. “When she found out I played the saxophone, she invited me to be a part of the Salsa Orchestra. It has been an excellent experience for me. Dr. Duerden always has a great selection of music, and we are just one happy band ohana. All of the students keep me young.”
As this was Elder Hale’s last performance, Dr. Duerden included the 70’s funk tune “Squib Cakes” at Hale’s request. Hale was even given his own solo portion during the song. Hale continued, “It is one of my all-time favorite songs, and the band was so fun to learn it with.”
Ksnlome lamented about how sad he was to see so many members leaving but is excited to continue learning and playing with Dr. Duerden. “Prior to coming to BYUH and joining the Salsa Orchestra, I had never had any experience on the bongos. I have learned so much already in the short amount of time that I have been here,” Ksnlome explained.
The Winter 2017 Salsa Orchestra members are: Cynthia Johnson, Jasmine Stevens, and Elder Jim Hale on the saxophones; Trinity Waddell and Dr. Daniel Henderson on the trumpet; Kevin Peterson on the trombone; Christopher Wiley on the piano; Beau Kapeliela on the bass; Sebastian Benitez on the drum set; Kris Ksnlome on the bongos and the bell; and Kei Riggins, Jeff Mellor, and Shannon Waddell as vocalists.