Both the junior and senior bands and the pops choir earned top honors with section superior ratings from all three judges. "It's the first time that both bands have gotten the highest ratings from all the judges," said high school band director Bryan Mara.
The pops choir earned top honors despite practicing only once a week. The members volunteer to come in 45 minutes before school starts on Wednesday mornings to practice. "They did a great job," said choir director Cheryl Bungum. "They're a great group. They work hard, and they read quickly."
The mixed choir Ð with 11th and 12th grade girls and ninth through 12th boys - earned section superior ratings from two of the three judges and earned an overall rating of section superior. The treble choir - ninth and tenth grade girls - earned section excellent honors, the second highest honor.
Both bands and the pops and mixed choir all performed music from the most difficult category for the competition. "They really did a nice job," said Bungum. "I challenged all three groups."
"I just felt like they could handle it," said Mara. "Both of the groups have good musicians, and I felt they could handle the pressure of performing it."
"What that means is the music is harder, and you're judged by more stringent criteria," Mara added.
The bands had 35 minutes to perform two pieces while the choirs had 25 minutes for three. After presenting their pieces, one of the judges would work with the group on the piece.
"It was a pleasure to hear you today!" wrote one judge to the senior band. "Keep up the fine work." Another judge was impressed right away by the junior band. "You made an immediate impression with your stage presence - your dress and the way you posture yourself. I was sure this would be a musical experience," he wrote and wasn't disappointed.
The choirs also got positive remarks. "Your group is so well-rehearsed," a judge wrote. "You sang with great energy and confidence. What good training to work together on such challenging music."
Of the mixed choir, a judge commented, "You have a great ensemble. Each section, for the majority of the time, were blending well."
Schools at the competition included ACGC, Annandale, Eden Valley-Watkins, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, Kimball, Maple Lake, New London-Spicer, and Paynesville.
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