The Utica High School Wind Esemble earned top rankings at the recent MSBOA State Band and Orchestra Festival.
The Chieftain band, directed by Mr. Michael Sauer, qualified for this state level competition by earning a 1st Division rating at the district level in March.
Ensembles competing at Band and Orchestra Festival need to learn three songs: a march, a required piece from the state list, and another piece of the director’s choosing; which are then performed in concert for a panel of adjudicators.
For this year’s event, the Utica Wind Ensemble performed “A Slavic Farewell” by Vasilij Agapkin(march), “Second Suite in F” by Gustav Holst (required piece), and “Ignition” by Todd Statler (director pick).
After the concert performance, the band moved into the sight-reading room where they were given five minutes to prepare a piece of music that they have never seen before and then give an adjudicated performance. At the conclusion of the concert and sight-reading performances the panel of adjudicators each give the performing ensembles a rating from 1 to 5 based on their performance, with 1 - or superior - being the best.
In order to prepare for State Festival, Dr. Greg Cunningham from Oakland University came in as a guest clinician to work with the Wind Ensemble.
Impressed by the musicianship of the group, Dr. Cunningham gave the Chieftains his thoughts, as well as some great advice on how to improve not only their individual parts, but also the unity and musicality of the ensemble as a whole.
After much anticipation and hard work, the Wind Ensemble took the journey to Port Huron for the State performance on May 4.
Thanks to the extensive preparation in the months preceding the event, as well as the expert advice given by Mr. Sauer and Dr. Cunningham, The Utica High School Wind Ensemble received a Division 1 Rating at MSBOA State Band and Orchestra Festival for the first time in the ensemble’s history.