The Huntington Beach Union High School District presented its 29th annual Honor Band Concert on Feb. 6 in the auditorium at Huntington Beach High School.

Guest conductor Robert Feller, an associate professor of music at Biola University, trumpet performer and author, directed 90 students from six high schools in the district through the opening piece, "Ignition," by Todd Stalter, which was fast and energetic.

Feller then told the audience that these high school musicians were "challenged by the collegiate level of the music and that they crammed [in] a lot of rehearsal time, going at warped speed the entire time. It's what the students learned, and these guys are going a great job."

The honor band next performed "Danzon No. 2," a popular Mexican composition by Arturo Marquez, and then Satoshi Yagisawa's "Machu Picchu." The performers closed the concert with "Florentiner March," by Julius Fucik.

Edison High School band director Tim Benge said the musicians had to audition to be included in the honor band, and then had only about 12 hours to prepare for the concert — about one-third of the usual time required to prepare for a concert such as this.

This was Alex Hitomi's third year in the district honor band, and the senior horn player from Edison High School said the experience was getting better every year.

"It's nice," he said. "I know a lot of the other people in the band, and now we bond over really tough music. We're each other's support system."

Hitomi said the conductor's enthusiasm made that challenging experience worth it.

"He offered a lot of experience and described his travels across the world playing music," the student said. "He had a deeper understanding of music and explained the cultural lessons of different styles of music."

SUSAN DAVIS is a member of the Edison High School band boosters. Her daughter is a senior at the school and a member of color guard.