Local bands capture competition honors

Published 8:43 am Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Contributed Photo The Betsy Band warms up at Western Carolina University before their preliminary performance.

Contributed Photo The Betsy Band warms up at Western Carolina University before their preliminary performance.

The marching bands from Unaka High School and Elizabethton High School recently made the community proud at two competitions.
The Unaka Rangers Marching Band placed first overall and in music and marching for Class 1A at the Battle Marching Invitational in Bristol, VA. Additionally, they won the title of Small Division Champion and Class 1A and 2A Band of the Day, taking first place out of both Class 1A and Class 2A, out of eight area marching bands.
“They were very excited,” said Band Director Jeremy Swain. “They won four trophies and a plaque for the superior rating.”
Seven of the band’s 24 members performed solos in its program “The Karate Kid.”
Swain said the highlight of the performance was probably the closing song “You’re the Best,” in which the drum line set down its drums and played electric guitars, bass guitar and a drum set in an interlude before returning to the line and closing the performance.
“I feel like it was our best run of the year so far, all the soloists did really well, the band as a whole, especially musically, really came together,” said Swain. “It wasn’t perfect, but that gives us something to build on.”
The Elizabethton High School Betsy Band competed in the 14th Western Carolina University Tournament of Champions and entered the finals round with 12 other bands. Out of 23 bands from five states, EHS placed 9th overall, ranking 6th in music, 9th for visual effect and 9th for general effect.
“I was very pleased,” said Band Director Perry Elliott. “Our goal was to make it into the top 12, and we made it into 9th place which I was very pleased with. We were with some truly outstanding bands–the top five bands had, at some point, finished in the national top 20, so I was very proud.”
The Betsy Band placed 10th in the preliminary performance and Elliot said he didn’t think they could beat their first performance.
“They gave a far superior performance in the finals, which I didn’t think was possible because the preliminary performance was so impressive,” said Elliott.
Their day began at 6:30 a.m. at the school, and they performed at 1:30 p.m. and again at 8:30 p.m., returning home at 1:30 a.m.
“They were very professional,” said Elliott. “All in all, it was a very rewarding day for the students.”
Of four Tennessee high schools that entered, three made it into the final round. They included Dobyns-Bennett, Science Hill and Elizabethton.
Dobyns-Bennett, a 230-member band, placed first in the entire competition, retaining their status as Grand Champion.
Elliott believes that participating in this southeast regional championship will help prepare them for the state championship.
Their program is called “Quiet on the Set,” which is a show about making a movie with music from jazz composer Cy Coleman.
“We were the only band there that played a complete jazz program and the only band playing something truly different and out of the ordinary,” said Elliott. Junior Grace Roberts is the drum major of the 139-member band.
The next regional marching band competition will be the Hilltopper Invitational at Science Hill High School on Saturday, Oct. 24 beginning at 1 p.m. Of the 21 bands scheduled, local participating bands include Unaka, Happy Valley, Sullivan East and Elizabethton, plus two exhibition performances.

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