The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

Music icon joins Cal staff

Acomplished musician, David Ellis teaches band
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Bekah Gracer
New band director David Ellis is playing the tenor saxaphone, his signature instrument.

After the long process of recruitment California High School faced while getting a new band director, the school welcomed band teacher and director David Ellis on Monday Aug.21.
The school has gone through many band directors over the past few years. The previous band teacher Javier Cerna, announced his forced resignation effective at the end of the year. From there, the search for a new director began early in the 2022-23 year.
Following careful consideration of many applicants by a panel of students, teachers and Principal Demetrius Ball, Cal agreed to hire a new director, who ultimately did not complete the hiring process required for employment.
This caused the band program to have a relatively late start due to the complications of finding a new director before Ellis was hired.
“We didn’t have a teacher for around two weeks, so that was a little weird,” freshman Ethan Surya said.
Two weeks into the school year, a new band director was finally hired.
Ellis specializes in tenor and soprano saxophone. He also plays other saxophones, bass, R&B guitar, drums, piano, and singing. He has been playing the saxophone ever since he was nine years old.
He began teaching after graduating from Berklee College of Music in 1992. He began with contract work for schools and various summer programs, such as the Stanford Jazz Workshop, Jazz Camp West and Cazadero Music Camp.
This year, Ellis is teaching symphonic band, wind ensemble, jazz band, and jazz ensemble, with the exception of marching band, which is being taught by Pine Valley middle school music director Daniel Rugani.
Ellis hopes to eventually teach a digital production and recording class as it’s becoming a prominent part of today’s music industry.
“I think band this year is going to be great,” said junior Siddharth Arora. Arora is a three-year member of the music program. “I’m excited to see how we grow with a new teacher.”
Hiring Ellis as the new teacher was a very long process, as the position was posted in February and applicants began rolling in.
“The panel went through probably four rounds of interviews,” principal Demtrius Ball said. “It was maybe around six [applicants] to five, then to Mr. Ellis.”
Ellis has high hopes for the music program, and is excited to watch the band become a team and foster young talent on campus.
“If everyone actually keeps their part, you can do some really cool things, so I like to watch the progress,” Ellis said.
In 2021, Ellis took a break from teaching after spending seven years at Oakland School of the Arts. This year, Ellis decided he wanted to get back into teaching because he said he wanted to be somewhere he could build something rather than just appear for a year and then quit.
After receiving multiple calls from friends, he decided to apply for the open band director position at Cal.
“I’m sort of a reluctant teacher because I’m good at it. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s my life’s passion,” Ellis said. “What I like about it, particularly with young people, is that [the students] don’t know how good [they] can be. So if I set a high bar, generally people don’t know enough to not hit it.”
Ellis brings with him plenty of professional experience. He has been in bands since he was in high school.
One of his exceptionally successful ventures was his time spent in the Ska band, The Uptones. The band, which featured Jamaican and Caribbean rhythms combined with punk rock energy and horn sections, was a success and even opened for Billy Idol and The Go-Go’s.
Ellis also played tenor saxophone for the Charlie Hunter Trio, a popular band signed to Blue Note Records. The group produced several albums successful albums for the label. They soon went live and started touring the world in 1995.
Apart from this, Ellis also has three records of his own under a famous jazz producer, as well as many other records such as those with The Uptones and the Charlie Hunter Trio. He worked at the label company Fantasy Records and collaborated with famous rock band The Black Crowes and American singer Donny Osmond.
He looks forward to bringing his experience to the band program.
Ellis also looks forward to the huge music library and the giant office in his room and is excited to work in the positive environment students and parents have created within the band program.
“I’m really excited about the amount of parental support [for the program] and they appear to be nice to each other as well, not just the parents, but the students,” Ellis explained.
Regardless of the complications in finding band directors, Ellis is excited to start fresh in the new year, taking the program to new heights.

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About the Contributors
Shelly Parekh, Staff Writer
Junior Shelly Parekh is in her first year at The Californian as a staff writer. She is excited to explore newspaper and hopes to improve her writing skills! In her free time, she swims competitively, reads, and listens to music. 
Bekah Gracer, Photographer
 Bekah Gracer is a senior and a first year photographer for The Californian. She has been in the Photo Advanced class for 2 years and loves photography. She is excited to learn how to use digital cameras and do sports photography. 

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