Concert Band Receives “Excellent” Rating!

Congratulations to all members of the Senior High Concert Band for an outstanding performance at Tuesday’s Music Performance Assessment at Westminster College! The band garnered two Excellent ratings and one Superior rating (Superior being the highest possible) from the panel of judges for an overall rating of “Excellent.” This is equivalent to a PSSA standard of “Advanced” or a grade of “A.” At the 2009 MPA, the Concert Band performed at a “Grade 2″ level, however, this year, the band performed at a higher “Grade 3″ level. The performance included a Paul Lavender arrangement of John Williams’ Raiders March, Gustav Holst’s First Suite in Eb for Military Band, and Charles Carter’s Overture for Winds. The bands have been improving by leaps and bounds over the past few years, and this assessment reflects all of the students’ hard work and dedication to the program. Following the performance, Mr. Gary Taylor, Director of Bands at Wilmington High School and Festival Host, commented to the band that “If [he] could give out an award to the most improved group from last year, it would be the Sharon band.” Audio recordings from the performance are here. Congratulations once again to the members of the Senior High Concert Band!

As a director, I couldn’t be more proud. This group performed Grade 2 & 3 level pieces at last years’ festival, and in just one year, they performed a Grade 3 & 5. Playing the entire Holst First Suite was a major accomplishment for these students, especially since we lack some essential instrumentation like trombones and horns. I re-wrote a lot of those missing parts to be covered in other instruments, and they did a tremendous job covering all of the stuff I wrote out for them.

The performance went really well, and overall, I’m quite pleased. Some aspects of the performance were better than ever, and of course some have gone better in the past. But, in the end, the students did an absolutely outstanding job performing some of the most important literature ever written for the concert band.

Wonderful Band Trip to New York City

I just arrived home late last night from a wonderful 4-day band trip to New York City! We left early Friday morning and arrived in the city around 3pm. We were dropped off at Rockefeller Plaza and took a walk up 5th Ave. to Central Park, and then down Broadway. That night, we dined at Planet Hollywood in Times Square.

The following morning, we woke early and headed out to Lakewood HS in Lakewood, NJ for our festival performance. It was to be a parade performance, but since it was raining, we were able to perform in the auditorium. The students performed well, and we received great feedback from our judges. We then had the opportunity to spend the rest of the day at Six Flags Great Adventure. In the evening, we attended the awards ceremony. I am proud to say that our group won first place and received a superior rating! To my complete and utter shock, the festival coordinator announced that it was the first time in the 28-year history of the festival that they have given a superior rating to a marching band. The kids and I were ecstatic!  About 15 minutes or so after the ceremony, when we were leaving the park, all of this finally sunk in. I have to say that I became very, very emotional, and I just broke down right there. In the past 5 years, these students have worked so hard for this program, and when I thought of where this program was when I started, I was just overwhelmed. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would receive a superior rating.

Anyway, we had 2 wonderful more days in the city. We had a 3-hour guided tour of Central Park, the Upper West Side, Manhattan, Ground Zero, and then we made our way to the South Street Seaport. The girls in the group had plenty of opportunity to purchase their purses and jewelry off the street! Then we headed to the Astor Place Theater to see an amazing show by the Blue Man Group. The theater was tiny, only seating about 300, but the show was incredible! That night, we walked back up to 30 Rock to go to the top of the building, and had a stunning view from the roof!

Monday morning, we packed our bags and headed out for a ferry ride on the Circle Line to check out the Statue of Liberty, and upon returning to land, we spent about 2 hours in Chinatown.

It was truly a wonderful trip, and maybe one of the best HS band trips I have ever been on. The students were great, and I am so proud of them and their accomplishments.  You can check out photos from the trip on my Flickr Page.