Unlikely song gets the PIL win for Melissa Patterson and Sylvan Talavera

By Adriana Milian-Hernandez, Reporter

Junior Melissa Patterson and sophomore Sylvan Talavera were the only two Cleveland band students to win the PIL for solo-ensemble March 5 at Wilson High.  

Students prepare a solo or ensemble for a duration of time and then perform it at the district competition. All the pieces are evaluated from a scale of four to one with one being the highest point possible and four being the lowest.

Patterson competed as a euphonium soloist and got a one rating, which is superior, and won her division. She is going to state and will perform in a duet with Talavera, who has composed an original piece.

“It is an uncommon thing because people usually pick from a traditional repertoire and then they perform it after practicing it,” said Patterson.

The duo wanted to do something different for PIL, so Talavera composed a piece that suited the ideas each had on what they wanted to perform.

“A lot of the music I write is based on particular, not all of it, storylines or travel along a specific path. The initial story began when I was laying in bed, so that was fast, but not the actual writing of the music because oftentimes for me what I write does depend on the story of it,” said Talavera on his time composing their state piece.

Patterson and Talavera finished their piece in three months due to the many drafts they developed in the composition. The pair started practicing more intensely the last couple weeks after their big performance, and they were still changing their piece.

“I remember being at a Steven Mead concert and snapchatting my ideas to Sylvan,” said Patterson.

She is constantly having new ideas come up of what else to include and exclude from their piece to make it perfect to perform in front of the judges.

When I asked about how the environment is like in the PIL region, the pair confessed that it all depended on the type of judge there was. Luckily, they got a reserved and cool judge who seemed to be humorous. The pair gushed about how the judge loved their performance and Talavera’s composition.

In some occasions, though, judges can be harsh and particular about what they like. Many of the judges will base their scores on the music they enjoy and the style they think should be played, so sometimes the environment can be demanding and judgmental, but luckily they were able to be in an environment where the judge was open to fresh ideas and new pieces.

Patterson and Talavera competed and dominated the competition. They beat all the brass ensembles from the different schools in the PIL district and have a set position at state  on April 29 at Pacific University.

“It’s interesting because we were really concerned that our duet wouldn’t come close to making it to state because it was what people consider avant-garde compared to things other people do. People that compete are normally playing things that were written centuries ago in a very particular style that doesn’t differ a lot. What we would classify as boring, they would classify as technical or pretty. Some would consider our music ugly or strange and that’s what many think about our music. We think that music like Mozart is boring and George Crumb is cool,” said Patterson.

The pair shared their happiness with their friends and family who went and watched them perform, including band teacher Gary Riler.