Band and choir attend competition, earn ratings

Meghan Nadzam, Reporter

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Revere’s Symphonic Band, Symphonic Choir and Wind Ensemble attended the OMEA Districts Competition and received a variety of ratings from the judges.

This year, band director Darren Lebeau split the full band into two groups, the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble. Lebeau spoke on his decision.

“[There] was a challenge for some students who were in the middle of the [band because] now they are section leaders. . . . A lot more of independent part-playing had to happen, because there is only one oboe, one bassoon versus multiples. All of the sections were like that because everything was cut in half. [This] gave everyone opportunities to be a section leader, or it gave more people to be soloists. We got to play six pieces of music with two bands instead of just three [pieces],” Lebeau said.

On March 9 and 10, each group performed three songs in the Large Group event for judges at Boardman High School. Senior Wind Ensemble flute player Paige Fritz explained the rating scale and how the Wind Ensemble received a two, or an Excellent rating.

“Bands are rated on a scale from one to five, one being the best. Obviously, a one is always the goal, but we were happy with the two this year. Mr. Lebeau picked some songs that were different in style from what we usually play, so it was a little more challenging. It’s always good to get experience with different kinds of music,” Fritz said.

The Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band each had to pay attention to specific characteristics in their music. Junior Wind Ensemble saxophone player Abby Hermann elaborated on the characteristics the judges look for.

“We had sight reading, and then we had to play our three songs for three different judges. They listen for the overall sound of the piece, dynamics, and how we play it. They definitely listen for who is supposed to have the melody and the others who kind of back off and if we get the overall [feel] of the song and understand the tempo,” Hermann said.

According to Hermann, sight reading used to be a category the band struggled in, but they  received a one, or Superior rating, in the category this year. The Symphonic Band also received a Superior rating in sight reading and a Good rating, 3, in the remaining categories. Hermann explained sight reading in further detail.

“[You] go in a room, [the judges] pass out music to each section leader, and the section leaders will pass out the music. We have to turn it to the back so it’s blank so we can’t see anything. Then we get two minutes to flip over the music, look through it, and we are allowed to finger through it but we are not allowed to play anything. Mr. Lebeau gets two minutes to talk to us about the piece [and] we play it through once,” Hermann said.

Sight reading became a positive trait for the Symphonic Choir as well and led them to a Superior rating. According to four-year member and senior Kelly Schikowski, the judges also look for other vocal categories.

“[The judges] have a rubric of the [categories], of what the judges are looking for, like tone quality, intimation, and dynamics, musicality,” Schikowski said.

Senior Sydney Borcherding has also taken part in this choir for four years and commented on the amount of effort put into their three songs. The choir performed “Vox Populi” by Theodore Beale, “Earth Song” by Frank Ticheli, and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” by Pat Boone.

“We did a lot of work in the two weeks between our pre-contest concert and the actual contest. We [worked with] a ton of things, not as much with the technical notes and rhythms, but with getting our energy up and getting the feeling behind the words, and I think that is what got us the one,” Borcherding said.

The choir also had divided age groups. With 44 members in the choir, the number of freshmen and new members comes to 18. Junior and three-year member Becca Schmidt commented on the freshmen.

“Half of [the choir is] freshman, which is hard, but it is also really nice because when you can train young people early, it makes it easier to succeed later on. I think Districts was a great experience, especially for our freshmen this year,” Schmidt said.

For three years, choir director Alice Forney has worked with Revere’s choir and led them to Districts each year. Forney mentioned this year’s differences compared to previous years.

“We go in a class that I select and that I feel appropriate. I have to choose one song from a predetermined list and then I get to choose two other songs. So, it’s different every year according to the program, the kids that I have, their skill level, and this year it’s a really young choir, but they were up to the task of Class A, which is one of the higher classes. . . . The improvement has been drastic and it’s hard to see when you see and hear them every day but luckily we have had some performances that we did earlier in the year. It’s a really cool progression to see,” Forney said.

For the rest of the year, the band will be working on their Spring Concert on May 10. The Symphonic Choir will continue to prepare for the OMEA State Adjudicated Event on April 20 and their Spring Senior Spotlight Concert on May 8.

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