This Saturday, April 5th, the annual Solo/Ensemble Festival will be taking place at Blue Valley High School. About 800-1000 students from 14 schools, all of the Blue Valley, Shawnee Mission, and Olathe High Schools, will be showing off their individual and group talent before a panel of judges. They will receive their scores the same day as the competition. According to the East band director, Kim Harrison, about 70 out of 93 total East students in band will be participating.
“[There is a] good representation for this year and very comparable to past years’ involvement,” Harrison said.
Band students began practicing for their solos or group performances well in advance of the final date.
“People usually start working on theirs right after state auditions or before state auditions,” sophomore flutist Xinyi He said. “It really depends on how difficult the piece is, but people will start working two to three months in advance.”
On Saturday, the students will be judged on tone, technique and skill, accuracy and musicality. Students can earn up to the highest score of a one, and the lowest score possible is a four. Students can enter a maximum of three times, and perform with different groups. They are limited to about a six minute performance. A new rule implemented for the first time this year is that duets are no longer allowed but solos groups of at least three people are allowable.
“They had so many entries that they decided to get rid of it,” he said. “So now you can only do solos or at least three people. And also, if you are doing a solo, you have to have a piano accompanist. Most people do a solo along with another performance with a group.”
In comparison to other schools, East does very well, according to the East band director, Kim Harrison.
“We have a lot of students that study their instruments privately with a professional musician, so we usually have more students receive more superior ratings than the other schools, but not every year,” Harrison said.