High note: Local bands win big, march on to state
Carroll County’s marching bands have been blowing the competition away the past few weekends.
The Berryville Marching Band brought home a big win and armfuls of trophies this weekend at the Waldron Bulldog Marching Invitational. The band was named the 2017 Bulldog Marching Invitational Grand Champion and won first place in the 3A band class and first place soloist for trumpet player Alex Maldonado.
The band’s show this year is “Mambo No. 17,” featuring multiple pieces from the mambo genre.
Middle school band director and assistant band director Hayley Watson said Berryville was ranked against 12 other bands in the competition, winning the top prize. She said the bands were scored based on their overall performance and the performance of each caption, which are categories within the bands such as percussion and color guard. The Berryville band received first division, the highest score, in every caption, she said.
“We received a trophy for all of those, so we brought home a haul of seven trophies,” Watson said. “We scored higher than everybody else.”
She said the big win was exciting for the students, especially because it showed them that having the biggest band isn’t everything.
“As far as size, we were pretty middle of the pack. There was an Oklahoma band there that had about 30 kids on us,” Watson said, “so it was a really exciting win for our kids. It showed them that bigger doesn’t always mean better. If you march and play and work your butt off, you can win big, and we did.”
As directors, she said that she and high school band director Brad Nelsen were most excited about the breakdown of the scores. The
rubric system used for each performance has a scale of one to 100, she said, and Berryville scored in the high 90s in virtually every category.
“Trophies are awesome, but you have to ask yourself if you’re going to a contest where everybody scored 70s and you scored in the 80s,” Watson said. “That wasn’t the case. Our scores were top end of the rubric all the way across.”
She said the students’ performance at the competition was probably the first time this season where they walked off the field knowing they had played their best.
“They knew they’d done it. That’s always special to see as a band director,” Watson said. “For us, it was a really special moment, and it’s always fun to bring home armloads of trophies.”
Nelsen said winning the grand championship was a moment of pride for both the students and the directors.
“For me, it was a good way of saying ‘Hayley and I are new. We’ve done new things, and this is the result,’ ” he said. “We came and did new things, and the kids joined us. With all our hard work, we got it. It was 100 percent the students who brought home this win. They really came through.”
Drum captain Titan Nachupa said winning was kind of a surprise for him.
“I thought that we did good and maybe would get one or two awards,” he said, “but being the grand champions was not exactly what I had expected.”
Percussionist Tatiana Adams said it was an exciting moment for all of the students.
“It’s a good feeling,” she said. “It went better than our show last year.”
Watson said Berryville has also qualified for the State Marching Contest on Monday, Oct. 30, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
“We don’t know what time we march yet,” she said, “but we’re really excited about that.”
Before the state contest, Watson said the band will hold its annual Chili Dinner Fundraiser and Community Performance on Saturday, Oct. 28. The chili dinner is served from the football concession stand from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and the performance will begin at 6 p.m. The dinner is $5 for adults and $3 for children 10 and under, but the performance is free.
“It’s hard for people to get down to Little Rock, and most of our competitions are two-plus hours away,” Watson said. “So this is an opportunity for the community to see how far the band has come.”
The Green Forest Marching Band has tuned up and turned up to multiple competitions the past few weekends, bringing back a number of awards.
Director Sarah Taylor said the band placed third in class at the War Eagle Classic in Rogers this past weekend, qualifying to march in the finals.
“That hasn’t happened in a long time,” she said. “We got seventh place overall.”
The previous weekend, Taylor said the band competed at the Pea Ridge Blackhawk Marching Classic and won first in class, fourth overall and fan-favorite band of the day.
At Region Assessment in Rogers this Tuesday, she said the band received an “Excellent” ranking, qualifying them for the State Marching Contest on Monday, Oct. 30, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
“This is our first year going to state,” Taylor. “We are super proud of our students. We worked really incredibly hard. The music has been really challenging for us, and we had a couple of injuries and illnesses this last week. For them to step up and still perform so well considering all that happened makes me and [assistant band director] Jon Taylor super proud.”
The band’s show this year is titled “Decomposers” and features the music of classical composers Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Euphonium section leader Ian Quinn said it has taken a lot of work for the band to perform so well.
“It’s a lot of hard work, coming to practice, cleaning things up and repeating,” he said. “It’s the best way to get things done.”
Tuba and low reed section leader Edward Herndon agreed, saying it has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
“A lot more so tears this year because there’s been a lot of injuries, grueling hours and staring at the sun while playing,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Flute section leader Emily Solis said it was cool receiving the fan-favorite band of the day award at the Blackhawk Marching Classic.
“It felt good because it was our first year getting that,” she said. “It means a lot to us. It helps us build our self-esteem as a band and become better.”
“We’re giving the people what they want,” joked pit captain Henry Holtkamp.
Drum major Tońo Mendez said he is glad the band got the opportunity to go to state this year. Trumpet section leader Elber Lopez said he is looking forward to it.
“Our show is good, but we still need to work hard for it,” Lopez said. “We’re not at the level we’re supposed to be, but I think we can reach it before we get to state.”
He said the band has about two weeks to perfect the show.
“It feels good to qualify,” said drum captain Ethan Agdeppa. “I think we have to be focused, and dedication is key, too. Without those two things, we can’t do what we need to do.”
While the State Marching Contest will be the band’s last competition this season, Taylor said the students will be marching at Green Forest Senior Night next Friday, Oct. 27, at Tiger Stadium.