Battle Music Festival introduces new opportunities

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Meeting together, the All-State Band practices for their performance to come on Jan. 25 Photo provided by

Brayden Parker

Flutist practices in RBHS music wing. Photo by Morgan Berk
Flutist practices in RBHS music wing. Photo by Morgan Berk
With the district music festival a little over three weeks away, the RBHS Band program traveled to Battle High School on Wed., March 12 for the inaugural Battle Music Festival. Designed with the same format as districts, bands from across the city performed in front of a panel of three adjudicators and received ratings from the judges with comments and critique. Purposely scheduled as a district warm-up, band members and directors a like were able to experience a festival atmosphere before heading to the district competition.
“I thought it was really great for us,” senior symphonic band trumpet player Ryan Tray said. “This was the first concert band festival I’ve been to that wasn’t districts. We have a lot of new people in band, a lot of people who have never gone to district before. So I thought that was a really good experience for us to grow as a band.”
All three concert bands at RBHS have been preparing since the beginning of the semester for the festival season. In addition to the in class rehearsals, many ensembles have met before school to have extra practices to make up for time lost to inclement weather. While rehearsal time is nice assistant director of bands Patrick Sullivan believes practicing in the same environment in the same setting day in and day out becomes repetitive for the bands. He appreciated having the festival at Battle as a run through for districts.
“One of the big benefits before we go to large ensemble festival is to get out into a different place then we preform in,” Sullivan said, “and have experience playing in some place different. Because when we end up going to large ensemble festival in Mexico its a different venue. We aren’t comfortable with it.”
Along with the experience of playing in a new venue it also benefits the bands to be comfortable performing in front of a panel of judges.
“Another big benefit is having three adjudicators listen and give us feedback and comments so we can continue to refine our performance,” Sullivan said. “We’re like three weeks out and that is a great place to be to receive feedback and make some final tweaks before we go to large ensemble festival.”
Like the District Festival, the Battle Music Festival awarded ensembles with a final rating at the end of the performance on a scale of I to V, with I being the highest. All three RBHS bands received I ratings. Both the RBHS Symphonic Band and the RBHS Wind Ensemble were awarded unanimous I ratings, meaning that all three adjudicators gave the two ensembles a superior rating.
Having all three bands receive the highest rating is an impressive feat and Trey was excited for his band on their accomplishments.
“It meant a lot to me personally as a senior,” Trey, who has been in the Symphonic Band all three years, said. “I’m not sure we have actually gotten unanimous I’s before. We have a lot of I- but not all unanimous Is. I thought that was really cool for me personally. Its something we’ve never done before.”
Although the high ratings were great accomplishments for the band program this past week, the ensembles, directors and members alike, are still focused for the upcoming district festival. They appreciate the Battle Music Festival as a solid performance but know that there is still much work to be done.
“We still have plenty of fine tuning to do,” Sullivan said. “I think all the bands if we asked the students ‘do we have more to work on?’ then they would say ‘yes’. There is plenty we can still work on. Mr. Mathews and I have a very idealistic goal of what we want our bands to sound like. I’s at this festival is great. I think its a great honor but there is still more we can do.”
By Brayden Parker