The UIL really likes the number “three”.
Last Tuesday the Sweetwater High School Band participated in UIL Concert and Sight Reading Contest in Abilene. These are the second and third phases of a three-part evaluation that Texas Bands have undergone since the 1930’s. Each phase of competition includes a panel of three adjudicators. In order for a band to earn the highest possible score, at least two out of three judges must award a “first division” or superior rating. The UIL Sweepstakes is designed to reward excellence in the three most measurable aspects of public school band curriculum – marching, prepare concert performance and ability to sight read music “on the spot”.
The first round of competition comes in the fall, where the UIL evaluates Marching Bands. Last fall the Sweetwater Mustang Band received first division ratings from all three judges. In the spring, bands prepare three concert pieces for the UIL’s second phase of competition. To ensure that the pieces are of suitable difficulty and quality, two of the selections must be chosen from a prescribed list of worthwhile compositions. The third piece must be a march of the conductor’s choice. Again, the Sweetwater High School Band received first division ratings from all three UIL Judges. Judge Richard Graham commented in his evaluation of Sweetwater, “This band has a good quality, focused, characteristic tone! The band plays very musically!” Judge Robert Vetter added “Lots of wonderful music making on ‘Polly Oliver. - Awesome clarinet solo!” Judge David Eakins summed it up, “Very mature sounds from this band. Tonal concepts are outstanding. Great balance and blend. Great ‘march style' - very light and clearly articulated. Super changes in articulation patterns. Percussion does superior work! Sweetwater, you are demonstrating very impressive musicianship. Phrasing is outstanding. This is a great band!”
The final round of competition takes place only minutes after the band performs it’s three prepared pieces. They immediately move to a room where they are shown a brand new piece of music, and are given eight minutes to ‘look it over’. Then the band must perform the piece. Again, Sweetwater earned superior ratings from all three judges. Adjudicator Ed Hefti commented in his critique, “Solid overall performance – really nice sounds from start to finish.” Forrester Halamicek added, “Wonderful controlled sounds and playing! Good rhythmic stability and precision. Nice job of letting melodic lines come through – good listening and execution. A really musical reading of this piece!” Finally, judge Tim Edins added, “Good phrasing – nice gentle style. Balance overall was very good. Band – you read well!”
The band is now preparing for their competition in Dallas on April 28, and their Spring Concert on May 10.