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Westside Band: State Champions

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The Westside Christian High School Concert Band assembled at 6:30am Wednesday, March 9th, for a trip to the Oregon State Band Championships and a chance to compete with nine of the top 3A bands in the state. Qualifying for the state championships in April was astounding enough for a band program that was established just one year ago, with a shoestring budget, a few donated / very used instruments, and a lot of heart. Six boys playing horns (no percussion) worked steadily that first year. Ten students (nine boys and one special girl) comprise this year’s band, with two of the boys adding percussion to the band for the first time!

WCHS band in action

WCHS band in action

Upon arriving at Oregon State University, the band got a feel for the LaSells Stewart Center Auditorium by listening to one of the other competing bands. The group then assembled together with instruments in hand and entered the warm-up room at 9:55am. In the warm-up room, the band tuned to one another so that unison notes and chords would create a pleasant experience for our audience. Ten minutes before the band’s 10:20am performance, our two percussion players were escorted to the stage to set up their percussion instruments. The rest of the band was then invited to the stage and introduced.

The band played well through its 5-piece song set, which included the St. Petersburg March, Clarinet Rag, Black Forest Overture, Three Ayres of Gloucester, and Moscow, 1941. The band played with crispness, good intonation and a very pleasant sound to the ear. The audience couldn’t believe this band of ten students (who are only freshmen and sophomores) could sound so full and wonderful. Students and directors alike kept stopping band members all day with kind compliments.

Following the stage performance, the band was escorted to the sight reading room, where they were given seven minutes for Mr. Fox to talk through and prepare them to play through an entire piece of music for the very first time. The anxiety of the sight reading room is palpable. Fortunately, our band was able to navigate the selection in reasonable fashion, scoring 43 out of 60 points.

WCHS 2018 Band State Champions!

WCHS 2018 Band State Champions!

Following the sight reading experience, the band was finally able to relax, listening to the other competing bands, taking pictures outside in the sunshine, and grabbing a light snack before the awards assembly. At 1:20pm, all of the bands and their directors were honored before the announcement of the finalists. Sitting and listening to the finalists being announced is nerve-wracking. 5th Place, 4th Place, 3rd place, 2nd place. Mr. Fox leaned over to Ethan Chung and said, “We’ve either placed 6th through 10th, or our band just won the state championship!” Then the announcement: “Your 2018 3A State Championship band is Westside Christian High School!”

Shock, elation, and a sense of achievement combined to create a surreal moment as the band slowly made its way to the stage to receive the state championship trophy. Moms, dads, and grandparents were yelling, applauding, and crying happy tears as the band formed on stage for a picture with the trophy to the cheers of all in attendance. After the pictures were taken, our band broke into applause toward the entire assembled audience filled with other schools’ bands and their supporters as a gesture of appreciation. After more pictures outside with the championship trophy, the band and many family members shared a meal together and gave thanks for an unbelievable and historic day. The band scored 86, 87 and 91 from the three performance judges.

The little band that could!