Composure and keeping your cool is everything for a performer, especially on the musical stage.
So it was no surprise that two Charles Hays band groups performed to a golden standard at the 50th Pacific Northwest Music Festival (PNMF) after their director placed an emphasis on those tranquil qualities.
This year, it was two gold ratings that awaited the school at the PNMF, held from April 16 to May 2 this past month, won by the concert band and jazz band.
“I would have to say the poise and professionalism the groups demonstrated impressed me the most,” said Charles Hays band teacher and ensemble director Jeff Saunders last week.
“Between last year’s festival [winning a silver and gold] to this year’s, we’ve discussed the importance of keeping calm and composed during these performances and how it’s an important trait for a musician to possess. The philosophy not only came through at the festival, but greatly enhanced the performance.”
Adding to the two bands’ excellent outing, the concert choir, consisting of 19 vocalists, also took part in the PNMF.
The concert band (22 members) performed “The American Way”, a concert march by Karl King, Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” and “Three Folk Miniatures” by Canadian composer Andre Jutras. The jazz band (13 members) took up Carl Strommen’s “Backburner”, George and Ira Gershwin’s “Our Love is Here To Stay” and “The Jazz Police” by Gordon Goodwin, while the choir sang “A Mozart Canon” based on a melody by WA Mozart, Handel’s “Sleep On” and “Lascia Ch’io Pianga” and “Three Hungarian Folk Songs”.
While the quality of both bands’ golden performances was spot-on, the intrinsic differences between the concert and jazz variations shone through as well.
“The biggest difference is the instrumentation and overall philosophy behind each group’s performance. Concert band consists of traditional instruments such as flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, etc… Jazz band, on the other hand, has three sections of horns (saxophones, trumpets and trombones) along with a rhythm section including piano, guitar, bass and drums,” said Saunders.
“Our concert band focuses on the performance of traditional repertoire of wind symphonies … The jazz band performs a variety of pieces, but essentially we need to play a straight-ahead swing tune, a ballad and a contrasting piece.”
Schools from Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers also competed in the PNMF.