Review: BOA Towson (Finals)
2006 Bands of America Regional Championships presented by Yamaha
October 22, 2006
Alan R. Irons
It was "that time of day" again; time to clear the stands for the top 10 bands. The sun got lower and lower, the sky lit with orange. As I made my way around the "U" of the stadium's edge, I glanced across the field again to see the trees near the band entrance which were all sorts of warm colors. I started up my car to get the warm air flowing. Rather than fight an enormous crowd to get to the hotdog, I had my own little dinner of sweet 'n salty peanut butter granola bars, dates, and a couple of Lindor truffles. I called up my best friend, Albert, who was off work by now. Albert said that he and Charlie were on there way to Towson, and I offered to buy tickets for them prior. When I was given the "yes" to purchase the tickets, I did. The lady who sold me the tickets accidentally gave me three Finals passes instead of two, and when I found this out I was honest by returning the extra. Since Albert and Chucky were still on their way when they opened the gates, I left the tickets at Will Call, and got the save the best seats I could find in the house, which were 4 "yellow chair" rows up and on the 50-yard line. Though the sun was gone, the cold was not as cold. (I think this had to do with the wind dying down.) Right before Finals started, Albert and Charles showed up. Albert had his notebook with him, and he was excited to see the terrific.
What you will see now is a somewhat DIFFERENT review. There will be my comments and my scores and actual placements, and there will be Albert's comments and his scores. Hear ye, hear ye! We can now get this show on the road...
Croatan High School
Repertoire: "The X Factor" including "I. The X Factor," "II. X Marks the Spot," "III. The X Generation," "IV. X=" and "V. The X Factor"
Comments: The marching members had baby blue plumes, black shakos, baby blue (blank) tops, and black pants. A giant "X" tarp was rolled out onto the field, the center portion raised. The auxiliary wore a mixture of light blue and bright green spandex costumes. Everyone performing on the field gets close to each other in an overlapping position, and points their arms towards a soprano saxophone soloist. Soon, the wind players are drumming on gock blocks of different pitches. The kids doing the clacking dance and partake in light, jumpy, twist poses with the guard. I enjoyed what I was hearing quite a bit. Some of the spacing throughout some of the formations was partly off. Some of the wind players take a seat in folding chairs provided by the guard, and are surrounded by a nice round circle of the guard (who act as one, accordingly). Some jazz running after a clean pass-through looks good. Clarinets, way to hit your spot and offer some scrumptious music. Yes, guard, yes! Those girls who twirled all caught their rifles not once, but twice. Some of the mid-field pit did not seem to come across to me as singularly as I would have liked. This hot group ended their show as they started it. The hypnotizing soprano saxophonist is amazing. These guys were top notch. Size does not matter here, of course, and this tiny unit was a prime example of quality over quantity. This rocks!
My Score: 73.90
Actual Score: 76.65
My Placement: 7th
Actual Placement: 6th
-Light blue w/sea green CG
-Lack of parent support, students
-Have no pre-warmup set up nor professionalism
-Walking into the field, sound check kinda disturbing
-Not clean attacks with wood blocks
-Marching stability upper body wobbly
-Strong skills with uniformity of G.E.
-Good sax solo
-Transitions from one set-next not crisp
-Great band/full sound
-Brass line pretty clean
-Difficulty of pit is not of the hardest found
-C.G. good consistent movement w/each other
-Again great balance of sound
-Attacks need to be uniformed
-25-25 decent field coverage
-3rd movement so far is most impressive
-Intervals work/marching needs work
-Sound was solid from mid 2nd movement to the third movement. Color guard has great overall visual yet difficulty level was not up there. Sound is amazing for the size. Great balance.
James Madison High School
Repertoire: "King Lear" including "Act I, Scene i;" "Act III, Scene i" and "Act V, scene iii"
Comments: The front sideline was mostly hidden by a black cloth barrier and the pit. The wind players, in mostly black, with a fake sash of red that widened at the bottom, were in a cross form, with a horizontal line capping the top. Saxophones, then trumpets, then clarinets play a gig, and then more sections follow suit. This group's sound is very bright and firm. Go guard gals! A center line of flags were twirled and tossed and caught. Ugh! There were a few feedback problems with the electronics. I like the spot-switch move within the upside-down Oklahoma form. Great snap to the box at the end of the first movement, as well as the snap downwards. There were very few spacing rips. Baritone soloist, way to nail your thang. Uh-oh! Did a trumpet come in early? (It sounded like it did during the dhut-dhuts.) Trumpets spot switch in their block, and clarinets do a three-man pin wheel in their line. Music reigns supreme with this band and...wow, I am out of words. I just heard some mad double-tonguing from the trumpets. The last notes of their show were a reflection of the first notes. I felt the warmth of the tubas and the electric bass guitar. They blanketed me with those fine, subtle sounds.
My Score: 73.00
Actual Score: 73.35
My Placement: 8th
Actual Placement: 8th
-C.G. Jester's colors
-Black uniforms w/red sash
-Walking in phasing. Back of line brass
-Marched in lazy
-Good intervals opening set
-Great opening visual
-Lines/guiding when taking turns
-Mid brass/low brass need to be louder
-Good flag work
-Distraction of reverb from speakers
-Electric bass is overpowering in opener
-Ascending triplet accent needs to be cleaner. Do not "flam"
-Woodwind solo amazing sound. Little sharp at times
-Great work C.G.
-Nice rich pit sound
-Trumpet attacks early
-Visuals w/horn and body great
-C.G. rifle cross toss/pitch
-Flute posture weakening in 3rd movement
-Towards end visuals and sound was stronger and stronger. Some were leaning and anticipating moves too often.
Wakefield High School
Repertoire: "I Believe" including "Imagination," "Unicorns," "Dragons," "Ghosts," "Santa," "Mermaids," "Leprechauns" and "Do You?"
Comments: Extra large flower props in flowerpots dotted the outer corners of the field. A large prop that appeared to be a book with pages sat on the back 50. On one knee, the winds and percussion faced the center of the cross form they made, which was encircled by auxiliary. The opening notes from this group were not full and firm. Where was that punch? Some of the line rotations worked. Adhere, adhere! A dragon picture appears when a page of the book is flipped. Really, really watch the DM when you hit those notes separated by dead air. Ooh! Ah! That hurt. Come on, you guys! CONCENTRATE. The middle horns sounded skewed after the dragon song. Smooth sax job, sax man (before the "mermaids" section.) The guard is, well...distracting...with their yells. (Sorry, it seems to detract, here. The winds, on the other hand, sound great.) I like the uplifting leprechaun melody, which seems to have a touch of Riverdance, and yes, LUCK. (I think this part of their show is amongst the best. The drill at the end of their show is too fluffy and tame. I can't help but be pleased with the question mark ending that keeps the mind on the ball and keeps you in touch.
My Score: 70.10
Actual Score: 76.15
My Placement: 10th
Actual Placement: 7th
-Red front/black pants
-Flower props with castle rooks
-C.G. awesome movement
-Marching flutes up front no clean
-Sax body posture weak
-Uniform attacks from brass
-Drum major not clean with show
-Nice saber toss. Clean.
-Trumpet (indiv.) you're in a band not a solo!
-Intervals beginning of Santa
-Great clean sound in Santa.
-C.G. great visuals
-Mermaids great sound
-Uniform quad in leprechauns for rifles
-Really like this show. Has a great theme. Balance out the sound, the attack. In step of marching. Intervals. Posture feet (ex. Tuba).
McLean High School
Repertoire: "Tribute to Malcolm Arnold, The Dance" including "English Dances (set one) Mvts. II, III, and IV" and "Scottish Dances Mvt. II"
Comments: Two drum majors, in Scottish garb, warm up a block of winds from the side. The winds had cream tops with a red plaid sash-into-cape, and black pants. In no time we are brushed with bell tones, and then a rather forceful brass section assaults. Ha ha! Who didn't wake up from that? The follow-the-leader snake form was a bit simple, no? Okay, there were some out of line when the big block of players first rotates, but things get better when it goes on. Heh heh! A sluggish, dopey portion of the show has great, nifty sound effects (courtesy of the pit). The kids really act out legit. With tradition on their sleeves their bagpipe man cranks out a quick diddy. Low brass, great work on being the last ones to play on that release (and kudos to the rest of the gang for allowing this to occur. (Argh! A stupid helicopter is overhead. Sorry.) The music of these kids hit the mark big time. Sousaphones, way to come into your own with soli SUCCESS! Okay, this band went in the shallow end. I need more bite; more grit. They were, however, musically "happy." Thanks for keeping the show alive with music!
My Score: 71.20
Actual Score: 72.45
My Placement: 9th
Actual Placement: 10th
-Looks like green SCV 90 (DM). Scottish color.
-Simple but very effective marching visual
-Phenomenal sound (wow)
-Opener marching not too complex but very clean
-2nd movement intervals work
-Great marching visual
-C.G. triple not clean
-Great marching displayed by bagpipe
-Traditional style of Scottish march BRAVO
-Drums or lack there of?
-In most of the 2nd movement sound is great
-Sound/visual with CG nice timing
-Tuba soli need fingering lessons (proper technique)
-Best Drum Major of the night
-Lack of percussion and difficulty of marching, but made up for with clean show
Norwin High School
North Huntingdon, PA
Repertoire: "Day and Night"
Comments: I was hoping the Drum Major would strike the famous one-leg crouch pose with arms folded but alas, it was not to be. Wow, rifle catch! (And right with the cut-off, too.) Again? Geez. This band showed me why they had such a tradition of excellence. I heard some true crescendos in there. Woo-hoo! Thank you, Norwin. The flutes had a sharp feature, and so do the clarinets. At times, it does not seem that the band is following the DM's volume change signals as strictly as they could. Okay, in those arc forms the sound is great, but...what's with the hold-up, there? (show me some fancy body moves!) The auxiliary are clear with those pom-pom style rings. Really bash those cymbals, drum kids. (The rack is there to rack.) The adrenaline rush was there at the end. This band stuck it to us nice and deep.
My Score: 76.70
Actual Score: 78.35
My Placement: 6th
Actual Placement: 5th
-7? 8 rifle?
-Amazing quick-step march, beautiful sound
-Slight interval issues
-Great set switch movement
-CG clean rifle line
-Attack of brass line
-Stick height from snare line, 3rd movement great balance, attacks and release AWESOME!
North Penn High School
Repertoire: "Voices of Genius" including "Mishima" by Philip Glass, "The Canyon" by Philip Glass, "That Next Place" by Thomas Newman and "The Chairmen Dances" by John Adams
Comments: Shiny, silver helmets could be seen--these, with blue curled plumes. The auxiliary, with colors consistent to the marchers, were interspersed between the field percussion. A slick backwards/forward move gives this band the look they seek time and time again. I like the brass players with arms spread, spinning within the circle forms. The voiceovers of great men and women in history really enhance this already solid performance. (Who is that who mentions "practice," by the way? Martha Graham?) Some of the horns out there sound a bit cold. (Really listen, people.) A few squeaks escaped from the strong woodwinds. Arm chop moves one way and then another way are done with precision. Is it just me, or did the beginning of "The Chairmen Dances" movement falter somewhat? There was a slight fade, and then they were back on track. (What was that about, hmmm?) The audience is on their feet when the band smacks us with their finals chords. However, it is the BAND that decides when their show is over, and a light piano tune signals the time for them to exit. Ha! These kids left skid marks. Give them another hand!
My Score: 78.00
Actual Score: 74.45
My Placement: 4th
Actual Placement: 9th
-Helmet with blue Phantom color
-Visual opener amazing
-Marching difficulty high
-Best opener sound, yet
-Great use of the field
-Clean 5 rifle
-Visually awesome, sound clean
-Little need to critique marching some more
-Pit work is great
-Tubas--fingering technique and embouchure needs to be tighter for pitch jumps
-Leaving field still marching phasing
King Philip Regional High School
Repertoire: "Roman Festivals" by "Ottorino Resphigi"
Comments: A slash of sparkling green and gold came across a chest of cream. All below was pure black. The first form of this group was purposely undefined. A platter tap that sped up instantly kicked things into high gear once the platter was thrown out the window. Gorgeous trumpets, gorgeous. My, my did they take you aback with their sound, TOTAL. Great opposing lunges in four diags. They were full on power, but careful enough not to use too much power. Each form locked solid. No mistakes here? Maybe! Just hear the trumpet soloist who played to the rear, and REALLY turned it on. Ah ha ha ha! Percussion slowed and sped their rolls like drum machines, my friend. Aye carumba! Who was this band? These kids came out of nowhere with the whip and raised the bar way high. One of the goofy moments of the evening occurred when a director or instructor of this group stood in the stands and jumped, flapped his arms around, and just was so INTO what the band was doing. (To some, this may have been humorous or even distracting...but I say that here is one of the best "coaches" there is--the one who is just as excited about the show as the performers are.) Way to wail, mellos! Oops, slight cracks, trumps, slight cracks. These kids pushed and pushed and pushed themselves. Besides the faint grinding of the engine near the end, this band flat out ruled. What a WHAT A show.
My Score: 83.80
Actual Score: 82.85
My Placement: 2nd
Actual Placement: 1st
-3/4 white green BD style uniform
-Sound of a drum corps
-Body visual not clean from lean to lean
-Individual rifle solo 8 of 10
-Volume in middle went sharp, horns
-CG Flag vs. Rifle 9/10
-Despite your boy 25 McGuire, AWESOME show. Volume, tone, look and feel was superb. Attack and release awesome.
Westminster High School
Repertoire: "Wood, Glass and Metal" including "Kaval Suiri" by Petar Lyondev, "Heroes Symphony" by Philip Glass and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica
Comments: The guard, in three tones of blue and one tone of black, held wooden poles upright in between the marchers. The first form is an extended "C," with the bottom part tailing. A trio of flutes clash with some interesting sounds. Great work, here! Careful not to lean, tubas. Careful not to splay, mellos. The rifle handlers had their work down, for the most part. (I did see one of them drop, but they got right back in the groove.) Ha ha! One of the contra-style tubas makes it look too easy, with one hand on the knee and sound as full as can be. After a domino move where turn-arounds lead to a solo wood block player, some taps bring this player to a slowing halt, and then the player poses. Nice. Mellos come in with some slightly unsure sounds. Man, it seemed like all the brass players forgot to eat their Wheaties tonight. (What is going on?) Okay, there trumpets, some regained. This was a difficult show. Every time you think they are down, though, they get back up. These kids have guts.
My Score: 77.00
Actual Score: 82.20
My Placement: 5th
Actual Placement: 3rd
-Subtle blues with CG
-Wood block opener
-Trombones watch pitch, not in balance
-Impressive blind marching with brass
-Cleaner solo, needs to play with more confidence
-Window marching/marchers need to be re-thought or re-done
-Low difficulty in marching
-Pitch and sound of closer awesome, but majority of show lacks the power or dynamic of the closer
-Not much use of field
West Johnston High School
Repertoire: "Declaration" featuring the music of Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin and Inspired by the Declaration of Independence
Comments: The first thing you think of when you see these kids is simply, "These kids look sharp." Once the mic is checked, this band is ready to roll...and we have a drum roll of sorts, as a snare drummer with an old style snare drum approaches a banner that reads, "Declaration." A rifle girl is with this drummer, rifle upwards. A narrative gives the "Declaration of Independence" some flesh and blood. The sound this group throws out there is so controlled, so "cherished" (as the narrator indicates). Wow! THERE was a dash of razzle dazzle with that rippling audio AND visual moment. The woodwinds play with our minds as the guard goes off with their rifles. Oh yeah! These kids were good and they knew it. A mellophone soloist massages the solo, but a whiff of "Yikes!" tears it a bit. That vocal soloist was wonderful. The sound system helping the vocal soloist wasn't wonderful, though. Yes! Now that's what I call style, trumpets. This band has all the ingredients. This team shined so much that you could see your reflection!
My Score: 83.00
Actual Score: 81.00
My Placement: 3rd
Actual Placement: 4th
-Talking on field by band members
-I like the 60's/70's drum march in
-Best marching posture of the night
-Turn around volume impressively clean
-Light, beautiful sound
-Timing of body/horn flash off (essential for timing)
-C.G. rifles great timing
-Nice reversal of march
-Guiding of lines for visual
-Tuba pitch for solo
-GE of CG AWESOME
-Marching very impressive
-The rolling of toes
-Musically breaking down
-Great individual solos cute
-Trumpets 2nds 3rds clean articulation
Kiski Area High School
Repertoire: "Viva Las Vegas"
Comments: "It's showtime!" yells a fan of theirs. The auxiliary costumes were flashy--they had purple plumes coming out of their head, and flowing orange dresses with neckties. They spell out "Vegas" with their drill and, ha ha, you have to love the sounds of fun and games in the casinos. The trumpets had swagger. These boys and girls took you on a smooth ride to a party, man. "BAM!" The flags hit the turf with the last punch of a note. I am spellbound by the showmanship by a saxophone. (Boy, he can play! He's a PLAYER, yo. Playa, playa, playa!) We must be in a jazz lounge. Hey, a dollar sign form! (Cool.) This group pulls out all the stops. The cutesy roulette move, with the drumline acting as the spinning wheel hinge, was mighty mighty. This band seemed like they were in a class of their own. You have to see them to "get it." Man.
My Score: 85.00
Actual Score: 82.25
My Placement: 1st
Actual Placement: 2nd
-CG Dr. Suess. Band black/white.
-Bones, great job
-Good marching with swing tempo
-Crisper work for horn flash
-Timing needed for turn-around (GE))
-Great solo (tenor sax)
-Trumpet needs to scale back
-Balance comes and goes. Not a fat sound.
-Good marching transitions/posture
-What to say? Great sound and nice look. At times there is a significant drop or lack of rich sound. Great "show."
END OF FINALS PERFORMANCES
EXHIBITION - Towson University
Repertoire: (Not Listed)
Comments: Heh heh! You gotta love the announcer's remarks on how Towson University hopes that this year will be a part of a long tradition of rain-free BOA shows at Towson. One, then many trumpets, go fingering nut. Power, and then more power--this unit jams! A super fly super high rifle catch makes the audience gasp and go wild. Some diagonals were not straight in a double-rhombus form, but they ended fine. A trombone soloist is money, and he KNOWS it, ha ha! Check out the guard chick in orange throwing an 8 with her sabre. Now comes the true test: "Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody." Ha ha! The cymbals are having waaay to much fun. Mello, you rock my world. This band has a ball. Aaah, it's so great. Why do I write? I should sit back; take it all in. This is a SHOW. The band rushes the track to take one more swing at us, and oh does it knock us out.
My Score: N/A
Actual Score: N/A
My Placement: N/A
Actual Placement: N/A
(Nothing. He sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the show. He made the comment that their band was almost on par with RCC, which is a great compliment.)
Post-Show Thoughts: Albert was amazed by what he saw tonight. I was, too! The display of pageantry here CAPTURED. To wait for a score and a rank was not a treat...what we just saw here in at this place was a treat.
10. 70.10 Wakefield H.S., NC
9. 71.20 McLean H.S., VA
8. 73.00 James Madison H.S., VA
7. 73.90 Croatan H.S., NC
6. 76.70 Norwin H.S., PA
5. 77.00 Westminster H.S., MD
4. 78.00 North Penn H.S., PA
3. 83.00 West Johnston H.S., NC
2. 83.80 King Philip Regional H.S., MA
1. 85.00 Kiski Area H.S., PA
10. 72.45 McLean H.S., VA
9. 74.45 North Penn H.S., PA
8. 75.35 James Madison H.S., VA
7. 76.15 Wakefield H.S., NC
6. 76.65 Croatan H.S., NC
5. 78.35 Norwin H.S., PA
4. 81.00 West Johnston H.S., NC
3. 82.20 Westminster H.S., MD
2. 82.25 Kiski Area H.S., PA
1. 82.85 King Philip Regional H.S., MA
Outstanding Music Performance - King Philip Regional H.S., MA
Outstanding Visual Performance - Kiski Area H.S., PA
Outstanding General Effect - Westminster H.S., MD
Post-Show Thoughts (Continued): What happened to NORTH PENN??? North Penn came in 9th after what seemed like such a success story. Even Albert was shocked to learn that they scored and placed so low. (Did they receive a gnarly penalty, or something?) Whatever the case may be, certainly they fell hard. My results did not exactly parallel the judges' results...but I felt that the way things turned out was just fine (except for North Penn). This was an exciting, exciting show. The suspense was in the air when all three caption awards went to three different schools. "Interesting," I said out loud, more than one time. And sure enough, things got twisted, as the top three bands were within ONE point of each other! When the King Philip Regional High School Marching Band was announced as the champion, I did not think there was a soul around that did not think they deserved it. A fun time was had by all. Me? I was ready to stretch, ready for quiet, and ready for sleep. Hey, wake me up when the next BOA event is here. Next week? What do you mean next week? Oh, oh, oh. Los Angeles. Okay. I'll be there. Will you?
Next up: The 2006 Bands of America Regional Championships in Los Angeles, California.
Fountain Valley High School Marching Band 1993-1996
Pacific Crest of Diamond Bar 1997
Nashua Spartans 1998-1999
UCSB Class of 2002