The Panther Band travelled to Pleasanton on Saturday, October 27, to compete in the Foothill Band review. Their 3:30 am wake-up call started the day, where they arrived at their destination while the night sky was still in full force. Their schedule would keep them in perpetual motion as they actually attended two high school campuses during the course of the day.
Their fast-paced agenda had them starting three different performances within a three hour window at Amador High School. This is daunting at best, with multiple uniform changes and vast movement of equipment. However, a glitch up ahead on the parade route caused the Panther day to squeeze to a narrow two-and-a-half hour window. This was followed by a hectic dash across town to head to the Foothill High School stadium with the musicians still in formal wear.
The marching band performed at around 9:30 am, a full six hours after most of them woke up that morning. While awaiting ‘take-off’ on the actual parade route, the early and unforeseen technical delay caused seven bands to be placed in a holding pattern. This is not a problem for a band and Color Guard that has been trained to be flexible. They found ways to keep warmed-up and occupied, while still remaining in character and holding on to their focus.
The intense timbre of their music was welcomed by the crowd. Although the Color Guard is small, their all-encompassing flourishes strongly framed the band as the block moved through the zone. All bands were enhanced with the plush acoustics provided by the buildings lining Main Street in downtown Pleasanton.
Next off, the Wind Ensemble played three pieces. In the background, one could hear the subtle conversations held by the judges as they dictated their input into recorders. These are reviewed by the bands in school during the week, so that adjustments and refinements can be made.
Lynn Haynes, a band booster parent, said it best. “So many times, we are just a nervous parent, silently cheering on the kids. However, this performance compelled you to close your eyes and be swept away comfortably. The rich and full sound seemed to be from a movie score, where you forgot you were listening to a high school band.” Another parent, Jacquie Pearson mentioned it was “magic and it just took you away.”
The Symphonic Band was the last to perform. This was their first competition of the season and they played two pieces. The last one had a varied tempo, beginning with the rush of a night wind across a prairie. Then it pitched into a moment of liveliness, winding back down to a finale full of tension and release.
Patrick Martin, Music Director, had but a moment to give them feedback in their circle after they adjourned outside. “That was pretty good, considering we were in ‘warm-up,’ and then 'we’re on the clock!' " Ms. Haynes also agreed. “It seems the tighter the schedule, the calmer they appear (to the untrained eye). It’s almost as if the extra stress helps their focus.”
Their award list was quite admirable. Color Guard placed second. The Wind Ensemble placed first, along with the Symphonic band which won by a large 8.3 point spread. The Marching Band placed first in their parade class, outdistancing the 2nd place winner by 4.2 points, and improving their own score from the last competition. Out of the various sweepstakes trophies given to several schools, the Panther Band won the Marching Sweepstakes trophy. Armijo High School, their very respected competitor, won the coveted Parade Sweepstakes Championship trophy.
The Panther trophy line-up is a sign of a well-rounded music program, and the scores reflect the constant growth and cohesiveness this band is experiencing. They compete again in Merced on November 10th.