Newcomer Horikawa Begins to Strike Up the Titan Band

Band students at San Marino High School were introduced to a new face when they arrived at their organization’s camp this year, with band director Shota Horikawa taking the reins.
Horikawa comes to SMHS by way of the Rowland Unified School District’s Alvarado Intermediate School, where he had been director of music since 2015. At SMHS, he replaces Denny Bui as he begins his first high school experience since student teaching. Horikawa has spent much of the last couple of weeks running band camp with the SMHS kids, and noted that he’d heard a lot about the school’s drumline in previous years.
“They’ve been nothing but wonderful so far,” he said of the Titan musicians in a recent phone interview. “Such a great group of students to work with and so welcoming. I think they’re really ready for someone to come in and start working with them.”
Horikawa, a Southern California native, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, in music performance and music teaching, respectively. He worked professionally as a classical musician, performing in venues, including Severance Hall in Cleveland and Carnegie Hall in New York City.
The SMHS marching band and color guard will make their debut under Horikawa’s leadership at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, at Titan Stadium, in a performance titled “Hawking” in honor of the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. The San Marino community is invited to attend the show.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for me to meet a bunch more parents in the community and give them a glimpse of what we’ve got going for them,” Horikawa said.
In acknowledging the recent history of band directors’ having brief tenures, Horikawa said he inherited a similar situation at his previous job and worked to build up a foundation that has since guided that program to state recognition. He has continued the same process here since starting in July, mainly focusing on filling out supporting staff.
“It wasn’t just myself” at Alvarado Intermediate, he said. “I had a really dedicated staff I was working with. I made sure to hire people who were really interested in the program.
“I’m still in the process of it here, but we’ve found some good coaches,” Horikawa added. “The staff who was already here has been amazing, and we’ve been bouncing ideas off of each other about what we can do in the next few years.”

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