The grade 8 and 9 bands of Parkland Middle School each brought home gold medals from a band competition at a performing arts school in Seattle on Saturday, April 14. Stephanie Tichauer, their instructor, said that overall it was an extremely fulfilling experience and the kids are “pretty pumped. They should be, they worked really, really hard to prepare for this festival.”
The festival is organized by WorldStrides, and it has venues all throughout the city. Where you play depends on whether you’re a jazz band, concert band or a choir.
Tichauer explained that when doing traditional concert band festivals, it is expected that the bands perform three different works that show the judges what they are able to do. It helps to pick three distinct pieces, and one of them usually has to be a march.
The first of the grade 8’s songs was called “The Kingsbury March”, a traditional concert band march. They then played “The Adventure Overture”, which opens strong and upbeat, before carrying into a slower more deliberate 3/4 timing middle section. Finally they played “African Festival”, which utilizes a great deal of percussion and featured each section of the band independently, giving each group a real opportunity to showcase their skill.
“Their performance went really well and their adjudicator was fantastic,” said Tichauer. “Their scores were really high, they got a lot of compliments about their tone quality and their attention to articulation and their balance and their blend, that was really good.”
The grade 9 band took a different approach to their performance. Their first piece, “Fanfare” wasn’t exactly a march, but was a jubilant composition and a strong opening choice.
“It really did provide the group with an opportunity to give the judges an opening musical selection that was very stately and proud and very symbolic of, ‘this is Parkland School, this is what we do.’”
Next they moved into a song entitled “Sketches of Canada.” Composed of three movements, each separate section was a Canadian folk song with its own distinct feel, moving from light, balanced and articulate, to an old, slow Newfoundland melody, before finishing bold and aggressive, highlighting the low brass and woodwinds.
Their final piece was entitled “Creed,” which Tichauer said was a beautiful arrangement that passes the melody around the group.
“The group was complimented on their attention to the conductor, basically what I was doing. We were all thinking together, we were all working together. Their phrasing and their balance and our blend, the judges really liked what the kids were doing and they awarded us a gold.”
Because they were awarded gold, the bands were invited to next year’s festival in Chicago.
“Anybody can register to go to the Chicago festival if they were awarded a gold, but WorldStrides wanted Parkland to come and compete, so when I say were we invited, we were, they have extended an invitation.”
In order to make the offer even more illustrious, WorldStrides has offered to wave the registration fees for Parkland, while others have to pay to play.
In addition to the festival, the kids got to go to an awards ceremony by ferry on Tillicum Village, on an island off the coast of Seattle. Around 1,000 kids were there, in the traditional First Nations longhouses, where they were served fresh salmon baked on open fire pits, and given the chance to see traditional dances and storytelling.
Back in Seattle, they got to go up the Space needle and go to MoPop, the Museum of Popular Culture, where they saw, among other things, an area dedicated to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, and a whole floor decimated to Star Wars and Indiana Jones. How often to you get to see Darth Vader’s original lightsaber? They also got to go on a Duck Tour, an amphibious bus ride around downtown Seattle and literally into Lake Washington.
So while this trip was an incredible experience, including packing all 102 of them on a charter bus for 10 hours each way, Tichauer said she isn’t committing one way or another to next year’s festival in Chicago.
“I’m just letting the dust settle and letting the kids really enjoy their accomplishment and decide. We certainly don’t have to commit to going to Chicago, it doesn’t really matter where we go, we always make memories and we always have fun.”
She expressed her gratitude to the overwhelming amount of support from staff, teachers, parents and the community that allowed this sort of trip and success possible.