Oxford’s student musicians rocked the house during the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) District 3 Festival held March 2-3 at the high school’s Performing Arts Center.
“We did very, very, very good,” said OHS Band Director Jim Gibbons.
The OHS wind ensemble, symphonic band, concert band and symphony orchestra all received straight 1’s from the judges as did the OMS orchestras consisting of seventh and eighth-graders.
Groups at the festival were rated on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the highest possible score. Those who achieved this score are considered “superior.”
Gibbons noted “collectively, this is the best” Oxford has ever done at the festival.
“I think it’s a testament to the hard work that the kids are putting in to be the best they can be,” he said. “I’m incredibly proud. I’m proud of the work that the kids are doing. I’m incredibly proud of the time that they’re putting in.”
During the festival, each group performs three pieces of music, one of which must be from the MSBOA’s required list.
Earning straight 1’s means all three judges gave a group’s stage performance a 1 and it received a 1 during its sight-reading before a fourth judge.
A sight-reading is when a musician or group reads and performs a piece of written music they have never seen before.
At the end of the day, Gibbons told this reporter the main thing he cares about is how well his musicians play, not the subjective scoring of judges.
However, he admitted it’s “nice” to have some external recognition from experts that shows students “our hard work is paying off.”
“When you have people from outside who do know a lot about music, who are professionals, and they’re (giving you high scores), I think that’s important for the kids because it’s validation for everything that they’re doing,” Gibbons said.
Although they did not receive straight 1’s, three other Oxford groups scored quite well at the festival.
On stage, the OHS concert orchestra and OMS eighth-grade band received ratings of 1, 1 and 2, then scored a 2 in sight-reading for an overall rating of 1.
The seventh-grade band received all 2’s for its stage performance, then earned a 1 for sight-reading, netting it an overall rating of 2.
Gibbons conducts the high school’s wind ensemble, symphonic band and concert band along with the eighth-grade band.
Natalie Frakes conducts the OHS concert and symphony orchestras.
James Berezney conducts the OMS seventh and eighth-grade orchestras, while Brad Schmaltz conducts the seventh-grade band.
This year’s MSBOA festival featured 25 bands, ensembles and orchestras from six school districts – Oxford, Holly, Lapeer, Ortonville-Brandon, Almont and Dryden.