High school bands compete at Festival in White Concert Hall

High school bands compete at Festival in White Concert Hall

Music resounded at Washburn University last Thursday, but not from the campus’ music majors. Instead, throngs of students in the 18-and-under category brought their instruments to life.

The State Large Ensemble Festival drew in crowds of public schools to Washburn. Kirt Saville, chair of the music department, headed the Festival. Schools from all across Kansas made their way to campus to participate in the annual event.

“When I was in high school and we came here, I think we spent several months practicing and getting ready to perform at the State Festival,” said Haley Mitchell, a sophomore biology major.

Mitchell graduated from Washburn Rural and came to support her high school alma mater.

“I really have high expectations about what they’ll [Washburn Rural] sound like this year,” said Mitchell. “When I was in high school we always did pretty well.”

The ensembles at the Festival that day were hoping to do well this year, and according to the music professors at Washburn many of them did.

“The quality of musicianship here today has been outstanding,” said Keith Mallory, director of marching percussion. “I’m really pleased and surprised by the level of musicianship because I don’t get to hear their performances a lot, but they’re doing really well. They’re playing college level music and they’re playing it well.”

The faculty seemed to have a lot of appreciation of the competition.

“These bands come from all over,” said Mallory. “It’s a fabulous event for us and them. It’s a great opportunity.”

The music varied, with some pieces expected and one that made Jessie Fillerup, professor of music, laugh approvingly.

“They’re playing Harry Potter in there,” said Fillerup.

At the all-day Festival, schools go to be rated so they can improve their music. They do not come to compete with each other.

The music ended Thursday and the halls quieted in the late afternoon as students packed up their instruments to return to their schools. Fillerup said that overall, the Festival went smoothly and with no problems.