SLUH sent its star band students to play alongside the best of the best in the All-District Band on Saturday, Nov. 21. After Covid interrupted the district band experience last year, things got back on track this year.
District Band is a program hosted by the Missouri State High School Activity Association in conjunction with the Missouri Music Educators Conference. The band is assembled by means of a blind judging and voting of every band student across the district. Because of Covid, these auditions were not held in person, but rather, instrumentalists sent in recorded auditions of études, scales, and songs for evaluation.
“(The judges) don’t know who the student is; it’s a random number,” said Band Director Jeff Pottinger. “They score those students, and then the winning students get placed into the District Honor Band, the Honor Orchestra, the Honor Concert Band or the Honor Jazz Band.”
Overall, 12 SLUH students made it into the All-District bands, including top placers such as senior Lauer Stix (second place, cello), junior Evan Mullins (third place, alto sax), junior JT Emke (third place, drum set), senior Nathan Rich (fourth place, tenor sax), and senior Alex Wentz (fourth place, drum set).
“I haven’t been playing for a super long time … so it was pretty exciting to actually get a musical achievement,” said Wentz.
Unlike last year, this year’s accepted students were able to get together with their district bands to play. Students attended a rehearsal on Thursday, Nov. 18, a rehearsal on Saturday, and then the concert was hosted on Sunday, Nov. 21. This meant that the district bands had only about eight hours of practice time to perfect a brand-new repertoire of songs for a performance.
“This was a great way to connect and to meet people from different schools and their band programs,” said sophomore trombonist Andrew Moffett.
Finally, it all came together with the concert. The district concert, jazz, and symphonic bands each performed four or five pieces of music, showing off their talents as the best in the area.
“We're only practicing like two or three days together as opposed to like a month, but for the level of the music I think we played it at a pretty high level,” said Moffett.
The bands are led by guest conductors. These conductors are some of the best in the country, giving participants an exciting opportunity.
“They have guest conductors come in that are usually pretty well known,” said Pottinger. “So the kids get to then go work with these master teachers.”
“It's always cool to have a different conductor than the one you're used to,” added Moffett. “He brings new elements and new style to the music … he's great to work with so that was a lot of fun.”
Students who qualify for District Band can go on to audition for State Band or Orchestra, which is a step higher. Tomorrow, SLUH band members look forward to taking a bus to the State auditions in Columbia as the next big step in their musical endeavors.
“It’s always fun to be playing with better musicians,” said Moffett. “You challenge yourself to become better, to play harder music. It was an honor.”
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