OAKHURST – Yosemite High School Badger Band and Percussion has a new leader as they march into the 2014-15 school year.
Long-time YHS band instructor Randy Hyatt retired in June and officially handed the baton over to Francisco Marquez, an educator and conductor who graduated college Magna Cum Laude with a degree in music education.
At any given time, Marquez has six CDs in his car stereo system, playing selections from classic and alternative rock to blues, jazz, funk and pop.
His talented students are finishing up band camp, marching and working out the details for half-time season. It’s shaping up to be a very good year for Band.
Though Marquez will be moving to the foothills very soon, he’s still commuting from Fresno right now, which gives him a lot of time to listen to those CDs. He’s been surrounded by music all his life; Marquez grew up in Santa Paula with a very musical family.
“My grandfather was a local guitar legend in the Ventura County area, and several of my uncles played guitar,” he says. Area musicians would get together on my grandfather’s front porch and play for hours at a time.”
With an early start on trombone in 4th grade, Marquez continued playing though middle and high school, while taking on various leadership positions in the band program.
“I was fortunate enough to participate in several honor bands and camps throughout my high school career,” says the 2013 Fresno State graduate. Marquez marched in the Rose Parade in 2009, and played in the Ventura County Honor Band under Guest Conductor and Fresno State Director of Bands, Dr. Gary P. Gilroy.
“Upon graduating from high school, I was offered a scholarship from Fresno State to join the marching band,” explains Marquez. “In my time at Fresno State I was a part of several ensembles including The Bulldog Marching Band, The Fresno State Bulldog Beat, Wind Orchestra, and Symphonic Band.” Guitar and euphonium are his secondary instruments, while trombone remains first on the list.
“Throughout my college years I had several opportunities to work for various companies, including Fresno State, The Sequoia Council of Boy Scouts of America, and Apple,” Marquez adds. “I have always had a strong interest in technology. As children, my brother and I would take our electronics apart and put them back together as best we could. Working for Apple has been an amazing opportunity that I have been able to learn from. There are many aspects of that job I feel can apply into my new position at YHS.”
Marquez first began working with YHS students in the 2014 spring semester of school, calling his experience with Randy Hyatt “awesome.”
When Marquez was initially looking for a place to do his final student teaching, he asked former YHS music instructor Dr. Tony Mowrer if YHS might be a good fit. According to Marquez, Mowrer responded heartily, “It would be a great fit for you if you’re willing to make the commute.”
Ultimately, YHS turned out to be just the great fit expected, as the opportunity offered everything Marquez says he was looking for in a program: “huge community support, a solid foundation, and students who are excited and passionate” about music and marching band.
“Being able to work under Mr. Hyatt has not only been a great opportunity to develop as an educator, it has set me up for success at the start of my career,” says Marquez, citing a “phenomenal foundation” established by Hyatt.
“I understand that I have some pretty big shoes to fill as I take over the program, but I am looking forward to the challenge. The students have a tremendous amount of love and respect for him, and I can only hope that I am that fortunate when I retire.”
Marquez has a vision for the future of YHS Band, and it’s big.
“I would love to see our program grow in size over the next few years with students from Coarsegold Elementary, Rivergold Elementary, and The Bass Lake Elementary School District. I feel that it is important to have music in every student’s life,” he says with enthusiasm. “Students are excited for the transition and cannot wait to see what the next musical season will hold.”
Marquez advises the community to be on the lookout for the YHS Badger Marching Band at home football games in the fall. As for what the students are working on, let’s just say it’s going to be Wicked.
Finally, are you curious as to what Mr. Marquez might be listening to in the car as he drives to and fro in his commute every day? We got a random sampling back in June, and while it may have changed since then, it’s a solid representation of the new YHS band leader’s range of taste and appreciation for talent.
Discs include The Steve Miller Band (Classic Rock), Yellowcard (Alternative Rock), John Mayer (Blues), John Allred (Jazz), Michael Jackson (Pop) and Tower of Power (Funk).
That last entry on Francisco Marquez’ playlist begs the question, “What is hip?” Today’s answer is: YHS Badger Band and Percussion. Welcome Mr. Marquez!
Photographs by YHS student Clara Briley