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Southside Band Festival by Emma Garlough

Emma Garlough, News Editor

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Southside Band Festival

By Emma Garlough

Students across the district performed in concerts recently, and Kennedy’s 8th grade band was no exception. Along with 8th grade bands from Madison and Lincoln junior high schools, KJHS musicians participated in the Southside Band Festival at Naperville Central High School on Thursday, November 9th. Band members largely considered the performance to be a success, and were surprised to see the contrast between the three bands. They also had a chance to watch the Redhawk Wind Ensemble play.

During the school day, students went to NCHS for a rehearsal so that they could adjust to playing in a new space. At 8:00 on Thursday morning, students reported to the band room, prepared to leave, and soon boarded the bus. Upon arriving at Central at about 8:40, Mr. Michael McManis gathered the band. They spent a few minutes arranging the chairs, stands, and percussion instruments, and were then introduced to Mr. Alstadt, one of the two band conductors at NCHS. Though the majority of the band will be attending Naperville North High School next school year, and five of the musicians were seventh graders, he was still able to provide them with valuable information about the high school band experience. Both he and Mr. McManis recommended that the students continue to participate in band next year and encouraged them to audition for a chance at playing in Wind Symphony, the second highest out of the three bands, rather than in Concert Band, open to any student willing to join. The most advanced band is called Wind Ensemble, but freshmen are not allowed to audition for it: “It’s a maturity thing… There’s a lot of difference between a freshman and a senior,” Mr. Altstadt stated.

Next, Kennedy musicians rehearsed 2nd Suite in F by Gustav Holst, the first piece they would be performing at the concert. McManis was noticeably stressed, becoming extremely annoyed when percussionists Dev Singh and Arvand Amleshi couldn’t or wouldn’t follow his instructions. This was not unusual; the percussion, trumpet, and trombone sections are the most common recipients of lectures during band rehearsals. After running through that piece, they practiced Fantasy on Yankee Doodle by Mark Williams. Despite frequent angry moments, almost furious enough to be called temper tantrums, during the song, McManis complimented the Kennedy band afterward on their work for the day. KJHS is known for having an exceptional music program, and the performance later that evening did not fail to demonstrate that point.

The Southside Band Festival started at 7:00 in the evening on Thursday, November 9th: the same day as the rehearsals that had occurred earlier that morning. Madison Junior High School opened the show, but for some it was a disappointing display. One mother commented that their eighth-grade band was at “a sixth-grade level”. She was not alone in holding that opinion, as several Kennedy students agreed. However, their viewpoint might have been skewed, because Lincoln students may not have shared that opinion. Their band, like that of Lincoln and Central, had a different layout than the KJHS band. To some, this was interesting, to others, it was irritating or off-putting, and the rest may not have noticed it at all. Surprisingly, band teacher Mr. David Carroll played the snare drum in the percussion section; whether this is due to an absent student or to a lack of practice or talent, it is not known. It was not due to an insufficient number of percussionists, as that section was particularly large and included instruments less common than the mainstay percussion; the temple block is an example. All of the other sections were much smaller than the Kennedy band. Mrs. Erika McCann served as conductor. The next performers were the Lincoln Lancers. Although their pieces seemed markedly more well-rehearsed than the Madison Warhawks, the group was just as small and the number of musicians per instrument was rather imbalanced. There was an abundance of trumpets and a lack of nearly everything else. They, like the other middle schools, played two songs, one of which was an arrangement of music from WICKED.

The last of the three bands, the Kennedy Eagles finally got their turn. The four movements of The 2nd Suite in F went smoothly, but audience members commented on the length of the piece: “Madison’s pieces were short, so I thought it would be fine, but then it took like twelve minutes”. There were several solos throughout the piece, including a piccolo solo at the end. Yankee Doodle went equally well, and was much shorter: three minutes, or maybe four at most. The audience was generally receptive to the performance, though perhaps became impatient at a delay due to the differing numbers of students between each band.

Finally, the Naperville Central Wind Ensemble closed out the evening. Rather than the polos and black pants that made up the middle school uniform, the Redhawk concert attire was black from head to toe. The girls wore identical ankle-length dresses, and the boys had suits, pants, and bowties with white shirts underneath. Just like the junior high schools, they played two songs. Mr. Alstadt talked about high school band and about auditions, reiterating most of the information that he had already discussed with Kennedy students during their rehearsal earlier that day. Overall, the show was deemed a success. Officially the next performance by the KJHS musicians will occur in February.

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Southside Band Festival by Emma Garlough