By MORGAN MANNS
They’ve done it again!
For the fourth time in the last five years, the Fostoria High School Concert Band will be competing in the Ohio Music Education Association State Large Group Adjudicated Event.
The group of 59 students competed at the district competition March 16, receiving three ratings of I — superior — and one rating of II — excellent — for an overall superior rating.
“I was very pleased with the performance. I felt it was one of their best performances,” Director Steve Kauffman said. “It’s always great to be recognized for your hard work and they deserve a good rating, but it is far more important to have a musical performance than it is to score well, and we accomplished that goal on Saturday.”
The instrumentalists were required to perform three songs, one of which was selected off of a list of “required” songs — “Twittering Machine” (Brian Balmages). The other two songs — “Bom Dia March” (Andrew Ballent) and “Jubilancelation!” (Richard Saucedo) — were selected by Kauffman. Students began practicing the pieces at the end of 2018 and early 2019.
In addition to the three prepared pieces, the kids had to complete a sight-reading exercise, where they were given a piece they had never seen before. They had four minutes to look over the piece and Kauffman was given four minutes to teach students the concepts of the piece before they were required to perform the piece for the judge.
The superior rating at the district contest qualified the band for the state contest. Kauffman said the group normally plays at the northwest site at Findlay High School during state. However, the class will be in the Smoky Mountains during that weekend in celebration of the band’s 100th anniversary.
To participate in the OMEA state competition, the group will travel to Gahanna Lincoln High School on May 3 to play at the East Central region site. They are required to select a new piece off of the required list and will switch to their march, performing the same set of songs they will play at the Smoky Mountain Music Festival, according to Kauffman.
“Every band has its own personality and this one is unpredictable,” he said. “We have struggled all year to figure out who we are, sometimes way exceeding expectations and sometimes falling way short. They have really come together these last couple of weeks and definitely peaked at the right time. More than anything, I feel pride, not just in these kids, but in our band program and those students upon whose shoulders we proudly stand.
“Qualifying for state contest is a program standard for us now,” he continued, explaining this is the second year in a row and the fourth time in five years the group has qualified. “This is only because of the hard work of the students who came before. Fostoria schools talks about leaving a legacy and band students, both past and present, have done this. I am honored to get to work with these students.”
But he didn’t just mean their performance at the OMEA State Competition.
In honor of its centennial anniversary, the group of instrumentalists will participate in the Smoky Mountain Music Festival, an annual competition featuring performances in choral, band and orchestra events.
They will leave April 25 and return April 27, with their performance scheduled April 26. They will prepare three songs to perform in front of a panel of judges, similar to the Ohio Music Education Association competition. The band will receive a rating based on the performance as well as a ranking within their classification — Class A, the smallest class based on students in the school in grades 9-12.
After the performance, the band will get one-on-one time with one of the clinicians.
While in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the students will have a guided tour of the Smoky Mountain National Park, explore downtown Gatlinburg, visit the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and have a clinic at the University of Tennessee.
The Fostoria community has donated more than $12,000 to help 47 students take the trip.
“We live in a generous, giving town and I am proud to be a Fostorian,” Kauffman said.