Cavalier band tackles 72 hours of tunes

KINGSTON — Four performances. Two days. Two countries.

One might think the Kingston Junior High School’s parading in Bremerton and Poulsbo May 21 and then tackling two more performances in Victoria, British Columbia the very next day would be a thoroughly exhausting feat.

Evidently, members like the pressure.

“It wasn’t like a deadline to meet at all,” drum major Hannah Petranek said of the band’s performances. “It was being able to show our band off, no matter how much we had to play.”

“We worked hard,” added fellow drum major Karina Hoogstede, “but we had a good time.”

Aaron Bilbao, the third in the trio of majors, even admitted: “I think it’s not enough. We could do more.”

Either way, the quality wasn’t sacrificed due to the quantity. The band’s Flag and Drill Team performed most illustriously, gaining first place finishes in the Bremerton Armed Forces and Viking Fest parades.

The overall band took first out of four bands at the Viking Fest Parade and took third out of seven bands in the Victoria parade. Thirty-eight bands total competed in annual event.

The trophies, however, aren’t the only aspects of the band that have grown along the way.

“At the beginning of the year, all of us were more distant,” Petranek said. “Now, we’re a lot closer.”

The Cavaliers also sent ninth grader Hoogstede to state in late April, the only junior high school student from North Kitsap to qualify. Band director Jeff Haag said her expertise on the oboe placed her in the top third of all participants, which is quite the result with someone who hasn’t even gone to high school yet.

That doesn’t mean she wasn’t nervous.

“I couldn’t even eat my breakfast,” she admitted. “It was a humbling experience. But it gave me a new goal.”

The entire band started with the formidable challenge of changing their repertoire at the beginning of the year. Haag wanted to add some new tunes as well as some classics to the line-up. He commented that the result of which was not a cacophony of confused musicians but rather a group on a mission.

“This band really pulled together,” Haag said. “We changed a lot of our marching material. We’ve got a little bit of old, and a little bit of new.”

“We started from scratch,” added TJ French, who also is in the school band’s Leisure Bandits, with Bilbao. “We ended up as a band that took first at Viking Fest.”

Perhaps the largest benefit the individual band members will receive by facing such competition at the ninth grade level was the leg up they get on high school competition at a young age, Haag said.

“It was a very good year,” Haag said. “And the students could tell they did a really good job. They gained the respect of both junior high and high school bands alike.”

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