North Kitsap performs in all-region music contests

POULSBO — The ears of the North Kitsap community auditorium were busy March 22-25 as North End schools hosted three of the four Olympic Music Educators Association competitions in the same week.

The events brought together bands from throughout the Olympic region to perform for a panel of judges that critiqued each group with kudos and corrections.

The OMEA contests were similar to a school band version of American Idol.

“The judges were consistent throughout, they told it like it was,” said North Kitsap High School band instructor David Dunbar.

The high school’s contest was an all-day affair March 25, while the junior high school bands performed March 24 and the junior high choirs gathered March 22.

All three events went off without a hitch, organizers said. And according to scores, North Kitsap’s musicians performed at pitch.

At the high school level, NKHS’ wind symphony scored top-level Is across the board, while the symphonic band received all IIs. Both groups played well, Dunbar noted, but they still came away with productive food for thought.

“Overall performance from beginning to end was good to see, they did well,” Dunbar said. “They knew the things the judges were saying were right on. There’s always stuff to work on.”

After receiving a quick, four-minute feedback session following each band’s performance, Dunbar knew there was more the judges could expand upon, so he arranged for one of the judges to stay in Poulsbo and pay a visit to NKHS for a more in-depth critique March 24.

“The contest we had on Saturday is our WASL,” Dunbar said, adding that a good portion of the band curriculum goes toward preparation for these kind of events, therefore detailed feedback on those performances is very useful.

At the junior high contest March 24, the Kingston Junior High School band got all the feedback it needed from a standing ovation of nearly 700 people — the only one of its kind throughout the 2006 contest.

“Just like a three-point shot at the buzzer to win the game and the crowd goes wild, this was one of those performances,” said KJH instructor Jeff Haag. “To have all the other schools stand up and support (the KJH band) did something in their heart for these kids.”

Kingston played the slot right before lunch, and before taking the stage, band members knew that nearly all 13 bands at the competition were sticking around to see them perform. The Cavalier instrumentalists took the stage with a backdrop of applause and bowed out in the same fashion after a musically moving performance.

“Exhilarating,” KJH wind ensemble member Sara Whiteley described how it felt to be awarded a standing ovation. And in response to what it was that prompted the enthusiasm, she said, “Our inspiring second song — everyone was left speechless by it.”

Even the judges were left in awe as one adjudicator commented, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

The KJH wind ensemble received an overall top score of I on the afternoon, as did the Poulsbo Junior High Band, which performed earlier that morning.

“We had the opportunity where we got to host three out of the four (OMEA) festivals all at once. It was a busy time,” Haag said. “At all times, we were running things to make sure that it was a smooth well-run event, which it was.”

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