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Musicians Make Sweet Music In Honor Band
For the fourth time in his high school career, senior Philip Plott took the stage with the San Joaquin County Honor Band on Saturday night.

For Kelly Irons and Shannon Montgomery, it was a first time experience.

The trio of musical Cougars had previously auditioned and all were selected for the countywide Honor Band, performing this past Saturday night (Jan. 9) in the Atherton Auditorium on the Delta College campus in Stockton with other select high school musicians from around the county.

Plott plays the saxophone, Irons and Montgomery both play the flute and all three are students of music teacher Jason Ryan at Escalon High.

"I encourage the kids (to try out)," Ryan said. "I give them a chance to look at the audition music, offer them after school help and even help them with recording the audition piece."

Students prepare the taped audition and then some are brought in for a live audition. All three of the Escalon students were selected for the honors group after taking part in the live auditions in November.

"It sounded like fun," said Montgomery, a junior. "And it seemed like it would be more challenging than every day music. It's really cool, there are a lot of people there that share your interest and care about music."

Montgomery has played flute for five years while Irons, a senior, has played the instrument for eight years.

"It's a very distinct sound," Irons said of the flute. "You can't mistake it for anything else."

The three had the chance to work together on the music at EHS but also had a handful of joint practices with performers from all the other county schools prior to the performance. That included a day of rehearsals at Delta on Friday, Jan. 8 and a dress rehearsal on Saturday prior to the performance.

"When you're playing with people and rehearsing, it's all about what's happening right then," Irons said of getting focused on the music and preparing for the concert. "I'm more excited than nervous."

Veteran Honor Band member Plott has been playing the saxophone for eight years.

"It's really fun, you get to meet a lot of people," he said of what he enjoys about the experience. "You perform with some of the best musicians in the area."

Plott said being a part of the Honor Band inspired him to "practice more" to prepare.

Also, Ryan noted, it was just one of the recent musical honors for Plott.

"He also was chosen for a Regional Honor Band that will be performing next Sunday (Jan. 17) at Delta, this covers Northern California from Merced to up north so it was a great achievement for him," Ryan said. "This is his fourth year with the county honor band and not too many students make it all four years."

Selections performed by the Honor Band in the concert included Gavorkna Fanfare, Yosemite Autumn, Timestorm and National Emblem. Dr. Ed Harris of San Jose State University conducted the band.