Music at serra
"Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Junipero Serra Music Department - Then and Now
Founded in 1944, Junipero Serra High School has always had a thriving music program. It is remarkable to note that during the school's nearly 70 year history, there have only been three music directors.
John Catalano, a professional musician and multi-instrumentalist, was the school’s first music teacher. Beginning in 1956 Catalano formed several performing groups that established Serra’s musical personality including a mandolin band, a banjo band, and several jazz combos. "Cat" (as he was affectionately known) laid the groundwork for the music program and left a legacy of inspired musicians who remember fondly his talent, his caring attitude, and the devilish gleam in his eye. He would lead the program until 1970, dying of a heart attack while at a gig.
John Catalano leads an "All-Star" band made up of faculty members in this posed publicity picture
With large shoes to fill, the music program was next handed to a Catalano product, Phil Garay (‘68) whose diminutive stature belied his enormous talent. For the next six years, Garay built powerhouse music and drama programs, staging spectacular concerts and musicals that became the talk of the Peninsula. This excitement was captured on the album "The One and Only Serra Band," Garay’s trademark moniker for Serra’s premier performing group.
Meastro Phil Garay conducts his beloved "One and Only Serra Band"
Students who had signed up for classes with Mr. Garay in the Fall of 1977 were surprised to be greeted by Jay Jordan, a twenty-three year old trumpet player fresh out of San Jose State University. Since then Jordan has tried hard to both live up his predecessors’ standards and to reshape the music program into a multifaceted academic department that caters to the needs of all Junípero Serra students.
The current curriculum features three performing groups: Jazz Band, Symphonic Band, Men's chorus, and one general music course - Beginning Guitar. All courses are accepted by the University of California as fulfullment of their VPA entrance requirement. As a result Serra music courses are closely aligned with California state standards in music and are designed to meet the needs of both serious music students and those wishing to explore music for the first time.