Central Okanagan students are arming themselves with every instrument from the high-pitched piccolo to the buzzing tuba in the annual Concert Band competition.
Not only are the bands competing against each other, they are also competing for the highest rating; a superior, which is equivalent to gold, said George Elliot band teacher Sergei Ryga.
The competition, scheduled from April 24 to 26, has Grade 7 to 12 students strive for a superior rating at Lake Country’s Creekside Theatre.
“They’re competing with each other, but really they’re competing against the standard. And why that matters to get a superior ranking is you have to play to that level and we can have the festival be here with four or five bands in a category and no one gets superior… it depends on the year,” said Ryga.
“I think it’s important where you have students, at least once a year, put in a situation where they can access their progress based on those standards and also listening to other schools.”
Bands who earn the highest ranking will be invited to finals, which takes place in either Calgary or Ottawa each year. The competition also allows the students to hear what other bands are like in other cities, he said.
Being tested is also important.
“We’re in a band room practising, so we only hear ourselves, so I think it’s important that we open our doors and have other bands come in… it’s important to put yourself in a more clinical setting where you have someone there whose job it is to find ways of making the group better.”
This year, there will be 18 groups from schools in the Central Okanagan and others from around B.C. and Alberta. At most, Ryga has seen 28 bands compete in a festival.
The competition is organized by George Elliot students, who love creating plans, directing bands to the right spots, helping with warmups and so on.
“If I said we are not going to do this, there would be a mutiny,” said Ryga.
The competition is open to the public. George Elliot Grade 7 students perform Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The Grade 8 students play Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and its Grade 9 to 12 concert bands play 11:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday.
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