MHS music department successful at state festival

Sophia Comas, Features Editor

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The Manhattan High music department has proved their skill when students from band, orchestra and choir participated in the State Solo and Small Ensemble Festival organized by the Kansas State High School Activities Association.

Out of the 201 student participants who earned superior ratings at regionals, the department saw 168 of those students off to the festival in hopes of returning with the same rating.

“We ended up with 109 Superior Division 1 medals and 49 Excellent Division 2 certificates at state,” Joel Gittle, band director, said. “That’s a tremendous representation of our music department.”

In preparation for such a huge event, the music students working on solos and those in ensemble groups spent little class time working on their music and instead stayed after school with the pianists to practice.

“Students who take solos prepare outside of class,” Gittle said. “Ensembles do the same but some class time is dedicated for them to work on their selections.”

Upon their arrival, a few students quickly became aware of the different criteria they would be judged on in contrast to their regional festival, which occurred mid-April.  

“Last year, the judge I had was actually pretty nice and this year they were still nice but their ratings were way too harsh on a lot of people,” Alexis Gray, sophomore, said.

The department also struggled to perform in new surroundings that contrasted what they had become accustomed to.

“I think we did very well as a group but everyone struggled with bad rooms for acoustics,” Parker Wilson, junior, said. “Listening and balancing is something we could’ve done better.”

Despite those few setbacks, the whole of the MHS music department is thrilled with what they have accomplished, carrying this year’s success into their hopes for next year.

“I think it’s something MHS should be proud of and hopefully continue to to attend,” Wilson said. “It really was something awesome.”

With approximately 65 percent of the students that participated returning home with superior ratings, the directors and students alike are more than pleased with what they’ve achieved.   

“I know how proud the music directors are of these students,” Gittle said. “MHS should be very proud of these students and this accomplishment.”

The department can now rest easily knowing their efforts weren’t wasted and that they’ve set the bar when it comes to judged performances.

“It takes an enormous amount of effort to prepare for state level competition,” Gittle said. “For that many students to find that level of success is a great accomplishment for themselves, the school and the Manhattan community.”

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MHS music department successful at state festival