The symphonic and senior jazz bands won big this weekend in the Big Apple. The two bands competed in the WorldStrides Heritage Performance Festival against 21 other instrumental groups from 13 different states.
Not only did they win: they swept the competition winning a total of eight awards, walking away with an award in each category they were eligible to compete in. Among the wins were the festival’s “gold” placement awards for best symphonic band and best senior jazz band. Though NKHS has competed in the festival before and earned gold and silver awards, it was the first time the bands won the top honors.
“I was hoping to get a gold placement, which is a grade of 90 and above,” said North Kingstown High School Band Director Toni Silveira of her expectations going into the competition. “I would’ve been thrilled with a 90 or above to just get the gold. I had no idea we would get the highest score.”
The symphonic band scored a whopping 98 out of 100 possible points while the jazz band nabbed a score of 97. The festival is judged by a group of professional conductors, composers and college professors.
North Kingstown High School also took home five other awards, including best overall band and the Adjudicator’s Choice Award. Individual honors were given to Paul Spetrini for his jazz trumpet solo and Andrew Nicastro for his jazz and symphonic alto saxophone solos.
“It was surreal,” said Silveira. “I was shaking.”
The 71 students spent the weekend in New York City for the festival. According to Silveira, the bands have been practicing relentlessly since returning from winter break in January.
According to Silveira, the festival’s adjudicator asked about the state of the music program after congratulating the bands.
“I told him that we were possibly still on the chopping block and he was shocked that that could be true,” said Silveira, who hopes that the town and school departments’ budget woes won’t threaten the viability of the high school’s music programs.
“We definitely have the support of our administration and school, which I really appreciate,” said Silveira. “I hope the town council supports the budget so none of these programs disappear.”