BARSTOW • The Barstow High School Wind Ensemble may soon publish an original piece of music after commissioning a composition about Barstow's railroad legacy.

BHS Director of Bands Tim Garvin said the song, "Waterman Junction," pays tribute to the city's railroad heritage and draws from famous locomotives and the historical Harvey House for inspiration.

Garvin said this is the first original piece to come from Barstow High School, though not many schools publish their own music. Garvin commissioned composer Gerry Willis, from Reno, to write the piece.

The Wind Ensemble, an advanced BHS band, has been practicing the song for two months in preparation for the March 30 performance in Reno where they will play for representatives from Mesa Music, a publishing company, Garvin said. If Mesa Music publishes the song, it will be available for other bands to purchase, giving credit for the song to the BHS Wind Ensemble.

BHS junior and clarinet player Charles Ruble said he's had fun working with the new music.

"Knowing that you're a part of something important, it makes me feel great afterwards," Ruble said.

To write the song, Willis said he researched Barstow's history, but also drew from his own experiences passing through Barstow on passenger trains out of Los Angeles. A railroad enthusiast himself, Willis incorporated sounds and images associated with trains into the music. He also used elements of music from the early 1900s time period and the location.

"There's a motif, in a musical sense, a thematic content that starts out with a series of chords that's evocative of the Native American tradition, on old west movies — that wide open spaces concept — then interspersed there are sound effects on percussion evocative of sounds you would hear if you were on the railroad — the clickety-clack concept," Willis said.

Garvin said part of the song's tempo emulates the start up of a locomotive, starting slow and getting faster and faster.

"It makes people use their creativity a lot more," Garvin said. "Rather than seeing something, like they do in movies, they can imagine it."

With the program notes and a little imagination, the audience should get the sense of visiting the historic Casa Del Desierto when it was a bustling station, he said.

The Wind Ensemble will be performing the song in Barstow at "Bandtasia" on May 19. For more information visit the band's website at http://www.barstowhsmusic.org.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or klucia@desertdispatch.com