Members march onto districts

Members+march+onto+districts

Alyssa Sykuta

Time well spent: Junior Jonathan Ackmann (right) and sophomore Daniel Shapiro attempt to master the jazz trumpet during their Jazz Band rehearsal in order to be successful at districts. Photo by Asa Lory.

As soon as the bell rings for first hour to begin each A day, five minutes of chaos are sure to ensue in the Performing Arts hallway.

Percussionists maneuver their timpani and vibraphones through swarms of musicians in crowded, narrow passages as they piece together their own instruments. Wind ensemble members trudge into the PAC or choir room, and music stands and chairs screech across the band room floor.

While students chatter and prepare for rehearsal, senior Julian Vizitei adds color to the noise with the low, rumbling notes of his bari-saxophone, concentrating on the sheet of music before him, Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1.”

Vizitei is not just playing through each phrase because he loves the sound; for the fourth year in a row he is working vigorously toward his solo performance at the Missouri Districts Solo and Ensemble Festival. On Saturday March 24 Vizitei and other members from the RBHS bands, choirs and orchestra will compete at this festival in Mexico, Mo. for adjudicators to receive a rating I through V, “superior” through “weak.”

“It’s a lot of fun to just do something on your own without a band around just to see what you can do,” Vizitei said. “It’s mostly just to see how well you can do by yourself and what difficulty you can play at. … I have fun practicing my solo and playing it and performing it. It’s a good performance environment.”

Senior Katie Hobbs participates in both the choir and orchestra programs and also plans to compete at Districts Solo and Ensemble for her fourth year, this time partaking in a vocal solo, violin solo, violin duet and choir ensemble. Hoping to major in violin and vocal performance after graduating from RBHS, Hobbs said the festival offers a unique educational prospect.

“It is a good experience and also a fun performance opportunity,” Hobbs said. “It is important to me because I get good advice from the judges and can work on improving my technique and musicality.”

Though Vizitei and Hobbs will perform at Districts Solo and Ensemble for their final time, sophomore Jessica Klein is gearing up for her first go at it, only having competed at the Central Methodist University festival in junior high school and middle school. However, Klein welcomes the chance to become a better trumpet player, seeking to grow from the comments of her adjudicators.

“It really helps with musicianship,” Klein said. “Like, I am scared to death of soloing, and so it’s a lot of help to … get the constructive criticism from the judges, but in front of people that love music and [who are] not really going to make fun of anything that I do wrong.”

Symphonic Band director Bob Thalhuber enjoys listening to the solos and small ensembles and seeing the initiative students take to perform well. He agrees wholeheartedly that participating in the event provides a learning opportunity unmatched in schools.

“Definitely the feedback you get from those is more personal,” Thalhuber said. “If you’re in a group of 60 or 70 kids the feedback that that adjudicator gives you is not as important. But if you’re in a group of four, and you get feedback from an adjudicator, and you’re the only one playing that part, it has much more value.”

However, feedback on the standing of a larger ensemble is still helpful. For that reason, the bands, choirs and orchestra will travel to Mexico, Mo. today to partake in the Districts Large Ensemble portion of the festival. Each group will also receive a rating on the I to V scale to see how its performance stacks up with other high schools from around the state.

“There’s always a ‘Where are we?’ a ‘Where are we going?’ and then ‘Where do we need to be?’ I think [for] a lot of classes, that’s sort of a model for learning. So this is our way of reaching into that model,” Thalhuber said. “I think it’s good to assess other programs, and it gives you a really nice reality check about where you are, both positive and negative.”

Although the groups have a history of performing well at the competition, receiving I and II ratings, Thalhuber is less concerned with the score itself.

“I always hope for a one rating, but I really don’t care,” Thalhuber said. “Ultimately you hope for first place or you hope for a good score, but when it comes down to it, when you’re done performing, you want to have a positive experience. You want to have a good representation of the music program here at Rock Bridge. And as long as that happens, then opinions of other people are educational, but they aren’t end all, be all. What matters is did we perform well? Did we perform as we expected to perform?”

By Alyssa Sykuta