Early this month, music students from Spokane and Mead competed in the Solo and Ensemble Festival hosted by the Spokane Falls Music Educators Association to win a chance to advance to the state music competition at Central Washington University in April.
The regional event at Shadle Park High School featured high schools in the Spokane Public Schools and Mead school districts, including Ferris, Lewis and Clark, North Central, Rogers, Shadle Park, Mead and Mt. Spokane. Students from Gonzaga Prep and St. George’s School also competed.
Students competed in voice and instrumental solos, small ensembles (four members or less) and large ensembles (16 members or less). The winner of each category is guaranteed to advance to the state competition, while the first and second alternates can be selected but might not be.
Some categories were more popular than others and had larger numbers of students competing, including solo performances in violin, soprano and flute.
Rob Lewis is president of the SFMEU and also the band director at Mead High School. He had students performing in several categories.
“This year we called ourselves the king of the first alternates, which is still a great accomplishment,” he said.
Students are given a 10-minute time slot to perform before local judges who either teach music or perform professionally. Students get a rating from one to five, with one being the best, and receive comments about their performance.
“If they aren’t selected for state, they at least get feedback on how they did,” Lewis said.
The Spokane Falls Music Educators Association is one of 22 regions in the state that will send students to the state competition in April.
“The competition is at a very high level,” he said.
But even progressing as far as the regional competition is a challenge, particularly for the soloists, Lewis said.
“They are completely responsible for the development of that piece,” he said. “There’s no buddy to rely on, there’s nowhere to hide.”
Students are generally not choosing simple pieces to perform, Lewis said.
“Most of them are very ambitious with the level of music they pick, so they have to work very hard.”
As an added challenge, the ensembles are not allowed to have a conductor. “They are completely on their own to make it through,” he said.
The Canterbury Belles, a women’s ensemble from Ferris High School, won first place in their division. Choir director Barbara Tappa said she chose two songs for them to perform, a Bulgarian piece titled “Svatba” and a song called “Dominus Vobiseum.”
“We choose pieces that challenge the students,” she said. “We choose pieces that have meaning, that aren’t just fluff.”
Choir directors can only choose certain types of songs to be featured. “Pop songs aren’t allowed,” Tappa said. “It has to be of a classical nature.”
Ferris’ men’s ensemble, who performed an Estonian piece called “Mis con inimene,” were named first alternates. Tappa said she was pleased with both their performances.
“They did fabulous,” she said. “What I asked them to do is their very best.”
A lot of different factors go into judging at competitions and sometimes the personal taste of the judges can come into play, Tappa said, so even doing your best isn’t any guarantee of how well you will do.
“It’s really not about winning,” she said. “It’s about sharing the music.”
The following student musicians qualified for the WIAA/WMEA State Competition at Central Washington University in late April. The students are grouped by category and listed alphabetically accompanied by the subcategory in which they will compete and their school.
Michael Daugherty, Trombone (Lewis and Clark); Michael Girsberger, French Horn (Ferris); Abby Hansen, Trumpet/Cornet (Ferris); Ray Tozzi, Euphonium/Baritone Horn (Ferris).
Maxwell Sadler, Guitar (LC).
Matthew Chen, Piano (Ferris).
Brenden Archer, Snare Drum (Shadle Park); Leo Cox, Mallets (Ferris).
Helen Knaack, Violin (LC); Henry Moe, String Bass (Ferris); Duff Overstreet, Cello (LC); Hayden Reis, Viola (Ferris).
Will Clements, Vocal Bass (Ferris); Kyra Fowler, Soprano (Ferris); Hannah Hardy, Soprano (MHS); Caroline He, Alto (St. George’s); Reagan Ivey, Mezzo Soprano (St. George); Dylan Pearson, Tenor (Ferris); Ty Winter, Vocal Baritone (Shadle).
Liam Cameron, Clarinet (LC); Jasmine Meredith, Flute-Piccolo (Ferris); Camden Moyer, Tenor-Baritone Saxophone (MSHS); Noah Schilbe, Oboe/English Horn (Ferris); Nemico Tagalag, Soprano-Alto Saxophone (LC); Jesse YE, Bassoon (MHS).
Ferris Trumpet Trio, Small Brass Ensemble (Ferris); Zabala Make You Holla, Large Brass Ensemble (Ferris).
CP Marimba Duo, Small Percussion Ensemble (Ferris); Ferris Advanced Percussion Ensemble, Large Percussion Ensemble (Ferris).
“&,” Small String Ensemble (Ferris); Lewis and Clark Chamber Orchestra, Large String Ensemble (LC).
Canterbury Belles, Large Vocal Women’s Ensemble (Ferris); The Four Horsemen, Small Vocal Men’s Ensemble (Ferris); Ibey-He, Small Vocal Women’s Ensemble (St. George’s); MSHS Chamber, Mixed Large Vocal Ensemble (Mt. Spokane); Tenor/Baritone/Bass Vocal Ensemble, Large Vocal Men’s Ensemble (LC); The Uncalled Four, Mixed Small Vocal Ensemble (Ferris).
MHS Saxophone Ensemble, Large Woodwind Ensemble (Mead); Reed for Speed, Small Woodwind Ensemble (LC).
Editorial assistant Rachel Baker contributed to this report.
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