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Conway High School band takes first-place honors

By Tammy Keith

This article was published October 23, 2011 at 3:20 a.m.

— It only took nine minutes for the Conway High School band to impress the judges enough in the Arkansas Showcase of Bands to take top honors.

The annual competition, held Oct. 15 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, included 47 bands, and Conway competed with 25 of them in the two largest classifications.

Tim Cunningham, coordinator of the music program and high school band director, said he was confident going into the competition.

“They have worked very hard, and they felt like they had a good chance, … but it was all down to execution during the performance that night,” he said. “Sometimes you think you’ve got a show [the judges are] going to really like, and sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. There are so many variables.” The judges obviously liked the show.

The band won the following awards:◊The Brandon Award - the top musical-performance award given to two bands, the smallest and largest classifications, 4A and 5A; Conway is in 5A;

◊Outstanding Band in Classification;

◊Outstanding Drum Major - Ian Shrum, Kaycee Gifford and Mary Hales;

◊Outstanding Soloist - Austin Westjohn;

◊Outstanding Guard (includes majorettes and the flag line);

◊Outstanding Percussion;

◊Outstanding General Effect;

◊Outstanding Marching; and◊Outstanding Musical Performance.

The theme of the CHS band’s nine-minute show was Music for a Revolution.

The opening piece was “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from the musical Les Miserables, then “Prologue,” also from the musical, Cunningham said. Also included was The Beatles’ song “Revolution,” which “worked real nice and had a low-brass combo in part of that,” he said.

Next, the band played “Bring Him Home,” from Les Miserables, “a really pretty ballad,”

Cunningham said. Senior Austin Westjohn

played an extended trombone solo, “and

that’s where he won it,” Cunningham said

of the student’s award. “Then, we wrappedup with the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. It had interlaced in it themes with Les Miz.” Westjohn, 17, said he believes “the focus” the band had helped put it on top.

“Everyone was really into it, and we were all dedicated to our show that night,” he said.

The contest started at 9 a.m. and went until awards were presented at 7 p.m. Conway High School was the last band to perform.

“We assumed the judges would be tired, but we still thought we would entertain them,” Westjohn said.

The band’s music was arranged by Christian Carichner, assistant professor in the University of Central Arkansas

music department.

Steve Smyth, formerly of UCA and now

associate director of bands at Iowa State

University, wrote the marching drill.

Band directors who work with the CHS

band, in addition to Tim Cunningham, are

Jan Cunningham, DeWayne Wilson, Paul

Taylor, Krista Spainhour, Todd Johnson,

Sheila Brooks and Chris LaCerra. Marie

Pollard is the color-guard instructor, and

Stephanie Lamar is the majorette instruc

tor.

The CHS band, which has 251 members, includes grades 10 through 12.

The Arkansas Showcase of Bands is sponsored by Play It Again, Arkansas, a program to get donated instruments into the hands of needy students, Cunningham said. The Showcase of Bands was a fundraiser for the program.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.

com.

River Valley Ozark, Pages 149 on 10/23/2011

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