From State to State: Band members follow road to glory


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~Photo provided by band director Joshua Wilson

Five band groups that are a part of the chamber ensemble traveled to Chicago on Dec. 17 to play in the Midwest Clinic-International Band and Orchestra Conference, a week-long exhibition. For the remainder of the week, the exhibition will showcase performances of bands from around the world that were chosen to attend. In order to be selected to attend, the band submitted an application last March, but only the clarinet choir group auditioned in the chamber music division and was later chosen to go. This year, however, band director Andrew Sealy made the decision to bring other band groups along as well to give them useful experiences.

“I went to a meeting in Chicago in June, and the Midwest Board of Directors asked if we could bring some other chamber ensembles besides the clarinet choir, so they extended the invitation [to go to Chicago] on to our trombone choir, our sax choir, our trumpet choir and our double reeds,” Sealy said.

The groups going on the trip make up 56 out of about 290 people in band. As part of the audition process, the clarinet choir went to a concert hall in Dallas last April to create video and audio recordings of certain songs they had been working on. From there, the tapes were sent to a panel of judges in Chicago who picked three to four acts out of all submissions to play in the big exhibition.

“We would only meet once a week [to prepare], but that lasted a couple months,” former clarinet choir member Ashleigh Choi said. “It was hard to get the entire clarinet choir to rehearse together, so a lot of it was up to the individual, and we would have to make sure the individual was practicing their own part.”

This is not the first time the school band has been able to attend the exhibition. They have previously been selected to go in 2009 and 2010. However, different band groups auditioned each year in two different categories: in 2009, the clarinet choir performed as part of the chamber choir division, and in 2010, the wind symphony. Once a band group is selected, they cannot submit again in the same category for at least five years, but Choi said she believes that this restriction adds value to the clarinets’ achievement.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]“It was really surprising,” Choi said. “Since it was such a long time ago since we last won and … you’re competing with a bunch of people, it’s a really prestigious event, so knowing that we made it was a really big deal and showed us how good we actually were.”

The band groups will hold four performances at McCormick Place West, two on Dec. 18 and Dec. 19 respectively. One of the performances will be a showcase concert outside the exhibit hall, while the other three will be done in formal, ballroom or concert hall settings.

“[The showcase concert] would be like somebody is playing in the mall,” Sealy said. “In other words, there’s going to be a lot of people around close to you.”

In addition to the acts that will perform, there will also be many educational seminars and workshops where several famous and world-renowned musicians will come to play and provide the opportunity to study music and their instrument more thoroughly.

“We’re going to meet a few of the best trombonists in the world, so we’re excited to meet those really professional people,” trombone player Azim Dharani said.” As a person, it does help you grow: meeting all these people, meeting all these high-end people, meeting people that have the same aspirations and goals as you … it just keeps making you better and better.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]