The weather is beginning to cool down and the fall season is under way, as are the high school band events around the county. Lincoln County marching band members are rehearsing, and tweaking their costumes in preparation for future competitions starting as early as this week.
The annual high school band preview event was Tuesday night at North Lincoln High, with an opening show for local students and their families to see what other county high school groups are working on.
“They perform for each other in a non-competitive arena,” NLHS Band Director Neil Underwood told the Times-News last week. “Each band supports each other and just has a good time; it’s a great first venue for us to figure out what we’ll be doing when we compete in a dress rehearsal and first run.”
The event started in 1999 as a way for all four high schools in the area to get together and put on a show for parents and college band directors to give feedback before the competitions that start later in the season.
Getting all the bands together provides a chance for the groups to work out the kinks and make minor adjustments before the competitive season starts, East Lincoln High Band Director Brent Harris explained, including an all-together performance of the national anthem at the end of the night. The Star-Spangled Banner was played by more than 250 local students on Tuesday — the piece local directors have been looking forward to as students hone-in on the “county-unity” tone of the evening.
“When we get our bands together they (band members) get a lot out of seeing each other play, and to put it into a preview show gives us another opportunity to perform in front of a crowd — one that knows and appreciates what we do,” Lincolnton High Band Director Josh Belvin said, “given that it’s other band kids, directors and people in the community who are supportive of the band programs.”
Upcoming fall band festivities include:
The Roundtable Tournament of Bands — an event orchestrated by Underwood — brings together 14 high school bands from across the state and Virginia, starting at 2:30 p.m., Oct. 6, on the NLHS football field. The competition will feature all four local high schools who will be judged by “some of the best judges in the area,” Underwood said, including one who will be coming from Miami, Florida to be at the showcase.
The judges have experience in directing bands, either at high school or college levels, or with arranging music.
Underwood will be directing his group through a performance called “Never-ending Trail,” a Cherokee rendition of the relocation of American Indians to other parts of the United States in the 1800s, called the Trail of Tears. Twelve teepees will set the scene, with costumes to match. Underwood realizes the Cherokee tribe didn’t live in teepees, but mud-huts weren’t as easy or cost-effective to construct, he laughed.
A performance of the traditional Cherokee Eagle Dance by the color guard is also on the schedule for the NLHS band.
“Music draws people together as a common thread that all these band students have as being part of band; it’s a pretty cool thing,” Underwood said.
The festival starts at 2:30 p.m., and the competitive portion of the night begins at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $7 at the gate.
Ratings for overall band, color guard, percussion and drum major will be given, while all the bands will compete for placement awards.
A week later, East Lincoln High will play host during the Carolina Classic band contest on Oct. 13.
The all-day event will also bring together the four local high school bands, along with schools from Mount Pleasant, Winston-Salem and Cherryville. The Classic dates back to the late 1980s, Harris noted, and is being brought back after a five to six year hiatus. The East Lincoln director has been with the school for about eight years, and thinking back to the earlier competitions, he, band boosters and band members thought it might be a good idea to bring the Denver-based contest back to the area.
“It’s a really great place for them (band members) to showcase all they’ve worked on in the fall for an audience that appreciates what they’re doing,” Harris said.
“People who are coming just to see them; a venue where they’re completely the focus rather than just halftime entertainment.”
A panel will also be present to judge the performances throughout the day — among which will be an exhibition from Gardner-Webb University’s marching band later in the evening. Participants will be judged on criteria from the North Carolina Bandmaster’s Association, such as visual performance, and musical and visual effects.
Among the various competitions all the schools will be participating in over the next few months, this is another early stop on the tour that is one of the few that all county high schools will be playing in together.