Music groups score well at local festivals

Annika Backer

More stories from Annika Backer

Get the A at WJ!
November 17, 2017

Both instrumental and choral groups from WJ displayed their talents at local competitions on the road to states. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

   The WJ Symphonic Orchestra once again competed in the MCPS Orchestra Assessment Festival earlier this month with hopes of securing a chance to go to states. The preliminary county wide competition was the only thing standing between them and states, and the only way to move on was to score a superior rating in both their performance and sight reading. The competition took place at Walter Johnson on March and high schools from all over the county came to showcase their talents.

   The WJ Symphonic Orchestra secured all ones, or a superior rating, amongst all four of the performance judges. Their repertoire consisted of all grade V and VI pieces, the highest level of graded literature and on par with pieces played by professionals and they did not fail to impress. The judges even pointed out their “nice stage presence” and how their “string playing was warm and mature,” ending with describing it as a “truly enjoyable performance.”

   For the eleventh consecutive year in a row, in honor of securing this superior rating, Symphonic Orchestra qualified for the Maryland State Orchestra Assessment Festival in April.

   “I thought we did okay, and our score reflected that. I was happily surprised with our superior rating. There is always something to improve on, and I know our performance at states will consequently be better,” senior Brunda Bellamkonda said.

   On March 13, the WJ Wind Ensemble competed in their county wide competition at Blake High School. Similar to Symphonic Orchestra, their setlist was also comprised of grade V and VI six pieces, and just like Orchestra, they didn’t disappoint. Wind Ensemble came out of this county competition with a superior rating from all four judges and a superior rating for the sight reading portion of the competition.

   “It went better than we were expecting, but there are still a lot to improve on like staying in tune and staying together,” senior Madeleine Stewart, a flute player, said.

   As a result of this rating, Wind Ensemble has qualified for states and is hoping to truly showcase their talents and put out another amazing performance.

   “We represented WJ with pride, class and excellence. States is another opportunity to improve,” Christopher Kosmaceski, Symphonic Orchestra and Wind Ensemble director, said.

   On March 14, it was time for the WJ choral groups to exhibit their talents in their county-wide competitions on the path to states. Madrigals took on other high schools in the county at Neelsville Presbyterian Church in Germantown, MD.

   Their set consisted of a selection of level VI pieces that showcased both their technical and musical talents. Madrigals came on top, scoring superior ratings across all four judges and even capturing a superior rating for their sight-reading performance. Madrigals will be moving onto the state competition in April.

   “I think we did really well and we were definitely able to listen to each other. This allowed us to be right on key and I think that if we just keep our energy up we’ll do great at states,” junior Sonia Tavik said.

   On March 16, Advanced Choir showcased their talents at a county showcase at Walter Johnson High School on the road to states. This competition was unlike the others in the fact that they did not compete against other choirs. Instead, they were scored by a panel of judges, with those scores determining whether or not they would move onto states. Due to the fact that they were the only high school choir to perform, they were judged separately from the rest of the competitors.

   “I think we did really well during the actual performance part. We all work really hard to portray the meaning and cultures of both songs we performed. It was really fun to be able to represent certain cultures and understand more about them. We could improve our fluidity by working on staggered breathing, but in general we have a great director and I think we work really well as a group,” junior Anika Holton said.

   The choir came out on top scoring a superior across all four judges and a superior rating for the sight reading portion of the festival. These scores have earned them a spot in the state competition in April.

   “They stopped worrying [about] all the little things and they were alive and relaxed. I might be more picky with the musical aspects and fixing all the trouble spots, but I am excited to see what they will do in states especially in such a cool venue,” choir director Kelly Butler said.