Written by: Rebecca Alger
Over the Memorial Day weekend, 110 students traveled to Los Angeles to WorldStrides Heritage Festivals, a national competition for bands and orchestras. Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band combined to form the Gunn Symphonic Wind Ensemble, consisting of students from all grades and skill levels.
According to band director Todd Summers, each group, which has been categorized by school size, gets 25 minutes onstage to perform. The three judges use a rubric to give each band a score and rating. Schools are then ranked by school size and scores.
The competition allows the band to see how they have improved since their last time in the competition and what improvements they need to make in the future. “My favorite part is the performance and music making with the students,” Summers said. “It is also a great community building trip for our amazing band program. We will also get a clinic from a college band director and getting feedback on how to improve is always great.”
Competing creates a sense of community among the band members that helps them perform at their very best. “I enjoy the sense of togetherness that competition brings,” flutist junior Sophia Han said. “We, as a band, become more in sync with one another and try to set aside our usual silliness to focus on the music and focus on sounding as best as we can.”
The band is looking forward to seeing how they compare to other schools and displaying their skills at the national level because it allows them reach new levels of potential. “Our goal is to play at the highest level we can and to represent ourselves, our school and our community at the highest level we can,” Summers said.
The band’s repertoire consists of “Legends and Heroes,” by Pierre LaPlante, “Cajun Folk Songs” by Frank Ticheli and “Under the Double Eagle” by Josef Wagner. According to Summers, the selection of music was also used when the band competed at the California Association for Music Education (CMEA) Band Festival April 13. They received the Unanimous Superior Rating, the highest honor possible. “It made sense to repeat this set for the tour because the bands are currently working on new music for our spring concert.”
In order to come together successfully, the band will have to put in much hard work and dedication. “I think the most difficult part will be intonation and balance as a band,” flutist sophomore Saakshi Singhal said.
Han agrees that there will be challenging times preparing for the competition. “It’s always most difficult the days leading up to the performance,” Han said. “It seems that intonation and articulation go out the window days before, and then comes that dreaded moment of realization when it’s suddenly clear that we’ll be performing and competing these pieces in front of a panel of judges.”